I purchased a copy of My Alcoholic Escape from Reality, by Kabi Nagata from the local manga/graphic novel shop (Betty’s Books).
Nagata Kabi’s downward spiral is getting out of control, and she can’t stop drinking to soothe the ache of reality. After suffering from unbearable stomach pains, she goes to the hospital, where she is diagnosed with pancreatitis–and is immediately hospitalized. A new chapter unfolds in Nagata Kabi’s life, as she struggles to find her way back to reality and manga creation in the wake of her breakdown.
Like I’ve done with some of the Seven Seas light-ish novels I’ve read recently, I’m not going to consider this a real review. I really enjoy the occasional graphic memoir, but I’m not going to pretend I know enough about what goes into producing one or what the genre norms and standards are to be knowledgeable enough to ‘review’ it. So, instead, this is just my reaction to having read the media. And I enjoyed it…as much as you can ‘enjoy’ a memoir about someone’s spiral into and possibly out of alcoholism and chronic mental and physical health issues. But Nagata does a good job making the reader feel her fear, insecurities, and exasperation at her situation, as well as her professional and familial struggles to work through both. Then, the whole thing ends on a hopeful note. This is the first Nagata Kabi Graphic memoir/diary I’ve read. I guess I’ll have to go find her backlog now.
Sam Quixote: My Alcoholic Escape From Reality
Thoughts on <em>My Alcoholic Escape from Reality</em>
I won a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ We Were Eight Years in Power a while back. But it has been sitting on my shelf for too long. I read it now in my ongoing attempt to further educate myself.
Description from Goodreads:
“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Now Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”
But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period–and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective–the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.
We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including Fear of a Black President, The Case for Reparations and The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.
Sooooo, I basically think every American should read this book. It’s eminently more engageable than I’d expected and I learned quite a lot. It’s not that I’d never encountered aspects of what Coates covered, many of the topics I’d studied in college 9at least shallowly). But that was a long time ago. He prompted me to think about things from angles I hadn’t before and does it all while centering it in and around his own experiences as a Black man in America. Which humanizes and relevantizes some of the histories that can feel out of reach due to the distance of time.
Admittedly, as Coates himself admits, he falls between an essayist and a memoirist (his own). So, the book doesn’t touch on intersectionalities of gender and race. Which is a shame, considering several of the essays touch on the politics around the dissolution of the family unit (or the fear, politicization, paternalism of it) and resulting female-led households. But I still think the book accomplishes what it set out to do. Absolutely, especially given current events, pick this one up people.
I won a signed copy of Roz Chast‘s Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? some time ago and then it got hurried on my book shelves. I finally rediscovered it.
Description from Goodreads:
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
It’s really a shame it took me so long to read this because I…well, I was going to say really enjoyed it, but that’s not the right way to phrase what I mean. One doesn’t enjoy a heart-wrenching story of a woman trying to deal with the death of her parents. But I could relate to it. There is a certain raw, scraped bare quality to the book that I didn’t expect, especially from a graphic memoir. The reader really feels Chast’s pain at the loss of her father and her disconcertion when dealing with her mother. Plus, Chast admits to feels a lot of us have probably had about their parents, but would rather hide the deep recesses of our mind and deny exist. All in all, a good read.