Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

It's not the I didn't like this book, I did. I think I appreciated the fact that the narrator was a human being, and seemed to actually genuinely like Afghanistan. I don't dislike the narrator - she sounds crazy, and, you know, I don't know about her decision-making skills sometimes, but who am I to judge, her in safe little San Antonio?

It was really an interesting book, and I'm glad I read it.

But what do you say about it, really? It doesn't help, probably that Amanda already posted a review - actually I read it because of what I heard about it from her. But mostly... I mean, man, what do you say? The book is pure, 100% confessional memoir, the writing is, more or less irrelevant, it's all just hter so you can experience this woman's experiences. How do you review someone's life? The book isn't really a 'work of literature' - not because it isn't good enough to be one, but because it's a different kind of product, it'd be like writing a review of a particularly good feature in the newspaper, only way more detailed and personal. It was certainly interesting. I don't know if I'd read anything else she wrote, because I can't imagine her ever writing anything else. I feel a new kinship with the Afghan women in her book. I'm glad I don't have to be an, apparently, normal Afghan Husband. What else is there to say?

Oh, and by the way, in the interest of full disclosure, the truth of the book, apparently, is somewhat difficult to clearly make out...


Amanda said...

I read that article you pointed to and I can't see what the big deal is. Deborah never claims to be the founder of the beauty school. She doesn't talk very much about the other teachers and organizers, but really, they had no relevance to the narritive, so what does it matter? And I'm glad to know that some of the things in there were changed. People dont' realize how awful it can be for women who have some of these things happen. I think it's admirable what she's done.

No one likes listening to another's account of the truth. Every person remembers something in a different way, because they experience it in a different way. But as her memoire hasn't encroached on anyone or told lies about people or exploited anyone, I don't see that it's a problem for her to remember the way she remembers. I thought it was remarkably unskewed and she doesnt' make herself out to be anything other than a confused and desparate person trying to do something important, even if she might not be the best equipped at that.

hamilcar barca said...

it is an interesting question (and one that was explored in the comments to the Emily Dickinson book) - just how truthful does a biography or a work of non-fiction have to be? should the facts be deliverately skewed in order to make the story more inspirational?

Amanda said...

My thoughts are that this book IS honest. The real complaint in that article is that the author didn't spend enough time talking about the other people who founded the school. Well, the book wasn't ABOUT those women, it was about the author and the women she taught. That's not so much dishonest as personal. memoires are subjective - they really shouldn't be put into the same category as biographies, I don't think.