Reflections on Jhumpa Lahiri’s New Book

happinessisMy favorite author released her first non-fiction book last week.  It is also the first time she has written a book in any other language besides English.  She describes her love affair with Italian. Part of me was curious about the book, part of me was not, but I knew that if I were still myself – the curiosity would win out, and it did.  I listened to Lahiri’s book on Sunday.
Why they have released In Other Words as a book, I’m not sure.  It really read to me, more like a log – a diary.  An, I’m undertaking a really difficult task and I want to remember how hard it was collection of reflections. When I first started to write, I used to set aside time and keep a log in addition to whatever I wrote. The really read like a log book.

The reason why I was able to finish it on Sunday is because half of the book is in Italian.  And while it is beautiful to listen to – I don’t understand a word.
I think she could have made a contract with the New Yorker for a  5 – 10 article series and been ok, but I also think she really wanted to be able to say – I wrote a book in Italian!  And she did.  This is from my goodreads review –
If you’re a language teacher (which I used to be), I think you’ll be able to glean from it (and I did). If you are also a student of Italian or any other language, you’ll be able to relate on some counts, if you’re a fan, you might be a little torn as there is only one story and just a few personal anecdotes, but you might like it anyway. It is very well written.

I respect Lahiri, I’m glad she accomplished something she wanted to, and I’m glad to see how loving a language can change and inspire you. I miss her stories though. Temporary Matter, here I come…

About Privilege

In other news – Writing Day 29 -So, not an easy post, but a necessary one.  Earlier this month,  I saw the raw video of this incident on the FB page of an acquaintance.
I was hurt, and then angry.
“End of discussion”. The employee didn’t even feel the need to explain his logic. It was  a given. Without anything but their skin color, these boys were pegged as potential thieves. Let’s just be honest, many people will never know what it is like to experience this, and it is probably not something you will ever think about for more than a moment if you’re never personally faced with such a situation.  I have a feeling if it were not caught on tape, we would never know about it. Sometimes privilege or lack thereof  is based on our skin color. writingprivilege

Waring: the video has some strong language. Do you remember the 2009 movie Up in the Air? It hit a cord with so many people when it came out.  It was the most popular movie in the country for many weeks.  Not because of George Clooney, but because so many people could relate to having been laid off. Many of the people featured were not actors, but relaying their own experiences of having had to lay people off, or having been laid off.  There was a second story line about unrequited love, but I have a feeling that the movie was more popular because of the job loss theme. privilege
Around this time I used to read the blog of a young lady  who was so excited to see the movie, that she hosted a movie night at her house. When she posted to her blog again, she was upset. What in the world were people talking about? This movie wasn’t good, it didn’t even make any sense. And because most of her friends had similar upbringings and backgrounds, they thought the same.  It never dawned on her, that she was missing an experience that would have clued her in. One of the readers of the blog (and I imagine her to be an older woman with beautiful gray hair) just gently replied, “You don’t understand it, because you’ve never had to live it.”
Sometimes,  privilege is in how we’ve grown up.  The education we have been given and the communities we have been a part of. Many times, we don’t even realize the privilege we have.  It is just life to us.  It is ours. Then we see someone who has so much less.  Someone who never even had the opportunity to not know what poverty is like. And at times we find it difficult to relate, unless we have a memory to draw on.

privilageWe as writers in America have privileges that we don’t even consider to be privileges.  Some privileges we treat as if they were our rights.
Some people tattoo targets on their bodies with every word that they write, and they are willing to die for their words.  Die for what they believe in.
Yet we just put words out there willy-nilly – it is our right. There are thousands of blogs and websites giving a platform to people saying exactly what they want, whenever they want.  When I realize that I couldn’t keep my devotional blog in many places in the world, it is difficult to comprehend.  I could die for the things I share there. It makes believing in what I write that much more important. I don’t think I really understand the gravity of it all.  It can be difficult for us to understand because we’ve never had to live it.  Yet we should not forget that our fellow writers, authors and novelists in other parts of the world break the law when they write their truth.  Let’s not forget about this privilege that we have in writing our truth.

You’ve got some nerve

nerveIn other news- Writing Day 28 post 2-And it is a good thing, because you have to have a bit of nerve to put your heart or your head out onto a document for others to go through with a fine tooth comb… if you are lucky.  Most people don’t have time or energy or manners, but we’ll write until you pay attention.

Write until your thoughts are so loud, you can’t be ignored.

P.S. Can you believe we have made it to day 28 guys?  Wow, you’re awesome, we’re awesome! We’re Writers!