Books I’ve Disliked Recently

Hello blog, here’s two reviews of two books I didn’t like recently.

Boomer1 by Daniel Torday (DNF)
I got about 30% into this book and decided to give up. The first few chapters describe the doomed relationship of two hipster millennial bandmates in New York City, so I probably should have stopped reading right then because those are exactly the characters I don’t want to read about. The story then takes a turn when the couple breaks up and the dude decides to become a domestic terrorist because the Baby Boomers kept him from getting a job? And then, for some reason, we get a whole section of the book from the point-of-view of the dude’s mother, who was also in a band? And it lost me there.

And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O’Connell (2/5 Stars)
My feelings on this memoir are more complicated, because I not only finished it but raced through it. I enjoyed reading it! It felt like reading a long form blog post, which is why I read it so fast and also why I can’t give this book a good review. This is a memoir about a late twenty-something woman who becomes pregnant shortly after becoming engaged. She lives in New York City and wants to be a writer. She decides to keep the baby, and the rest of the book is about her experience with pregnancy and her traumatically painful labor, and then her first year as a mother, where she experiences postpartum depression and tries to get back into writing.

I felt for her experience, and I even learned a few things. (Get the epidural, for instance.) However, I rolled my eyes so often during this book I felt bad about it. I don’t judge O’Connell’s experience, but it was hard to sympathize with her after a while. The last quarter of the book is mostly her saying, “Why does no one ever tell women that child birth is so painful? Why did no one tell us it was going to be so difficult?”

I’m all for breaking the stigma of how motherhood is difficult – but come on. These questions – why did no one tell me it was going to be so hard? – become the thesis of the book, and by the end I realized there was little substance to this memoir besides that. I suspect this was a memoir written simply to write a memoir, without the benefit of distance, and the fact that O’Connell writes about how difficult her experience is without recognizing that it’s a pretty universal experience that a lot of woman have written about makes it seem like a memoir totally lacking in self awareness, which is the absolute worst quality a memoir can have. I can’t stand memoirs written in haste the very second after someone Has An Experience, and this one is that.

 

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