Wednesday, March 30, 2005
March Reading
I haven't read many books this month because I read all of my old journals, which took up about a week's worth of reading. And, I kept starting books and chucking them. I picked up about 10 books at the library about Iran.

I really enjoyed Reading L0l1ta in Tehran and wanted to explore Iran more. I picked up a book about Khomeini, a book about the Shah, a book about the history of Iran, and another handful of fiction and non-fiction books that told personal stories about Iran.

I got half-way through a book on the Iran Hostage Crisis and decided it was too much analysis. Besides an interesting children's book about the Iran-Iraq war, the only book that sucked me in was To See and See Again. Everything else was just too dry or too flowery or just didn't sit right with me.

Jane Austen: A Life
Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

This book was really wonderful. It brought Jane's world to life. Unfortunately, there isn't much to go on to really discover Jane's life itself. We have more information about her neighbors, her brothers, and her cousin than we do about her. I was left feeling quite frustrated about the letters that Jane's brother had carefully preserved, only to have his daughter destroy them.

There were times in the book when I felt like the author was putting a modern spin on the family's choices and lifestyle. In the beginning, she writes of Jane's mother having another child as if it were an obvious burden. She writes of a woman who was kept perpetually pregnant by her husband. These things may well be, but I wouldn't rule out the woman's own choice in such matters.

I would have loved to have read more about Jane's single love interest, Tom Lefroy, but unfortunately there just isn't any information. What I did learn about Jane was interesting and in the end, poignant. The book painted a hazy, yet lovely, picture of Jane.

To See and See Again
To See and See Again by Tara Bahrampour

JUST BEFORE I TURNED TWELVE, MY FAMILY DROVE TO OREGON to outrun the spring. Every time it looked like we were going to stay in one town, the weather would warm up and my father would pluck us out of the life we were considering and swing us back north on the highway. I think that deep down he believed that acknowledging the change of seasons would mean admitting we were in America to stay.

Tara's father is Iranian and her mother is American. As a child, she lives in the U.S. for a time and then in Iran. In 1979 their family returns to America. This is her story of the loss of her home, finding her place in the U.S. and then finding a second home in Iran.

Tara is a little older than me and while her life was quite different from mine, her recollections remind me of my childhood. In Iran, she sings songs from Grease, she watches Little House on the Prairie and The Wizard of Oz. After coming to America, she watches Roots in her hotel room, she feathers her hair, goes rollerskating, buys Nikes and goes shopping at the Gap. She wants to fit in and she does.

In America, first wives do not sit around to help raise the children of second wives. In America, if I heard about a grown man marrying a ten-year-old or kidnapping a teenager from her father's house I would consider him a criminal. But here in the village none of this is so clear.

As an adult, Tara goes back to Iran, and has the opportunity to see again. She feels keenly her American self and Iranian self. She lets us into the tug and the pull of her memories and her identity. We get to see Iran as she does, as an outsider and an insider.

This is an interesting read. Tara vividly remembers life before and leading up to the revolution in Iran and her transition from life in Iran to America. She lets us in as she discovers her family and herself.

posted by lochan | link
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Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

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