eBook Digging to AmericaAuthor Anne Tyler – Memovende.co

Currently reading for a local book club I would not have chosen this book myself based on the first several pages It s an easy read, with too many mundane details I find myself skimming over a lot of the text and that is not what I find an enjoyable Nonetheless, some of the characters are interesting we ll see where it goes.Update I only made it half way through and won t finish it The book club gave this story a unanimous thumbs down due to sketchy, somewhat schizophrenic, character development, and an unlikely story line Nothing much here to make you turn the page. As I was reading this book, even when well into it, when almost done and racing to the end, I came to a section that made me judge it as uneven.Then I finished For a minute I just sat there Then I burst into sobs I had just been complaining the other day that I couldn t understand catharsis from classic tragedy, but this is different What is it about Anne Tyler s books It s been a while since I ve read one The Amateur Marriage hit me pretty hard.In this book, two families who are both adopting Korean babies meet and their destinies become intertwined One family consists of white upper middle class Americans and the other of Iranian Americans The focus is on several of the characters, but especially on Maryam, a late middle aged adoptive grandmother from the Iranian family She s been in this country 39 years, but typically people whom she meets will start the conversation by asking how long she s been here She sees her feelings of alienation and difference through the lens of her foreignness, and that s poignantly compared and contrasted with the experiences of the others Anne Tyler s particular gift is to shine the spotlight on her characters and make them real.This week I ve had two narrative experiences about badly misunderstood women I saw the movie Delores Claiborne based on the Stephen King book, which I haven t read in it, Kathy Bates plays a woman everyone thinks is a bitch and a murderer, too She s married to a wife abuser Author Stephen King and actor David Strathairn each do excellent abusive husbands In Digging to America, Maryam is thought to be an imperious and haughty woman Her daughter in law s family and even her son refer to her as Khanom Madame Her son himself speaks of her in a critical manner As the plot progresses, harsher attitudes emerge From inside, the tension may be risk versus safety, but the dimension of interest to me here is that of judgment versus mercy With that, I m back to my speculations about classical tragedy and my difficulty with classical tragedy as a source of catharsis My hunch is that the catharsis associated with classical tragedy has something to do with group, not individual, catharsis For all that we can imagine seeing the world only through our individualism, that individualism is a very late development I m speculating that the catharsis associated with classical tragedy has to do with purging some human but undesirable element from the group The group commiserates with the suffering of the purgee but nevertheless is on board with the judgment that the problem trait must go For me, though, catharsis comes through the recognition that the person with the trait viewed externally as bad, ultimately is not bad That conclusion was mistaken Through some change that takes place in both the one being targeted and those who were passing judgment, a new and even better equilibrium is reached, one that doesn t require anyone to be sacrificed.I m on some new territory here, but I think that is getting closer to what I mean by a redemptive story and one that results in catharsis It ain t easy being human But joy is possible. In What Is Perhaps Her Richest And Most Deeply Searching Novel, Anne Tyler Gives Us A Story About What It Is To Be An American, And About Maryam Yazdan, Who After Thirty Five Years In This Country Must Finally Come To Terms With Her Outsiderness Two Families, Who Would Otherwise Never Have Come Together, Meet By Chance At The Balti Airport The Donaldsons, A Very American Couple, And The Yazdans, Maryam S Fully Assimilated Son And His Attractive Iranian American Wife Each Couple Is Awaiting The Arrival Of An Adopted Infant Daughter From Korea After The Babies From Distant Asia Are Delivered, Bitsy Donaldson Impulsively Invites The Yazdans To Celebrate With An Arrival Party, An Event That Is Repeated Every Year As The Two Families Become Deeply IntertwinedEven Independent Minded Maryam Is Drawn In But Only Up To A Point When She Finds Herself Being Courted By One Of The Donaldson Clan, A Good Hearted Man Of Her Vintage, Recently Widowed And Still Recovering From His Wife S Death, Suddenly All The Values She Cherishes Her Traditions, Her Privacy, Her Otherness Are Threatened Somehow This Big American Takes Up So Much Space That The Orderly Boundaries Of Her Life Feel InvadedA Luminous Novel Brimming With Subtle, Funny, And Tender Observations That Cast A Penetrating Light On The American Way As Seen From Two Perspectives, Those Who Are Born Here And Those Who Are Still Struggling To Fit In 3.5 stars I enjoyed this story, though the first half dragged quite a bit By the latter half I was muchinvested in the characters lives, especially that of Maryam who I think really should ve been the central character all along When it focused on her perspective and how she viewed the goings on around her, I was muchable to connect to the story I think a lot of that comes from Anne Tyler imbuing Maryam with so much of her own story, as her husband was an Iranian immigrant who died of cancer 9 years before this novel was published.Overall not my favorite of Anne Tyler s work but it s always a pleasure reading her prose and seeing how she observes the world and parcels little tidbits or anecdotes that seem pulled from real life. This was one of those funny reading experiences that started out plain, then turned a bit boring but then ended very much enjoyably In this story, we get to meet two American families who both decide to adopt a Korean baby They happen to be simultaneously present at the airport on the day they adopt their babies, and since then they form a friendship that allows for the two Korean girls to get to know each other both from the same country and with the same background While the beginning of the book was mostly about the two girls and their growing up in a foreign country, the story gradually turned into a narrative about their family members, and I really liked this shift in focus It provided you with a broader story that made me feel very affectionate about the two families and their developments Anne Tyler is great at writing about real people and Digging to America was no exception The characters were honestly depicted with their flaws and all and that made me love them evenTyler s characters and educating stories are what make her books worth reading and this one is no exception. What I anticipated versus what actually unfolded in this book were quite different I was bored halfway through but wanted to endure the last half to find out what the ending would be When I got to the very last page, I couldn t help but say that s it An uneventful ending to say the very least The character development was quite unpolished and the plot was well, I guess I never found the main one, just a bunch of sub plots that never fully became anything substantial or resounding Quite disappointing to say the very least. I must admit that the only thing keeping me out of the newspaper in yet another road rage story are the audio books I download or check out from the library Listening to audio books while fighting rush hour traffic on 1 65 is my equivalent of counting to ten.Anyone remember the actress Blair Brown from The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, circa 1987 Ah, my dependable Saturday night date What a sweetheart Anyway, I just finished listenting to the audio book Digging to America and I must say that Blair Brown s rich voice reading Anne Tyler s exquisite phrasing are a match made in heaven.Digging to America tells the story of two couples, one American and the other Iranian, who meet at the Balti airport as they await the arrival of their adopted Korean baby girls From this day forward their lives intertwine in a clumsy but satisfying way as their children grow and they reach out to embrace each other s cultures.Who knew Blair could do so many voices Bitsy s aggressive American voice Dave s forlorn voice Maryam s controlled and Ziba s timid, heavily accented voices It s like I ve got my own personal theatre inside my car.The only other voice to captivate me so was Sally Darling s reading of To Kill a Mockingbird But that s another review Take Blair along for the ride and keep the roads safe. Digital audiobook narrated by Blair BrownA story of the immigrant experience and two families united by the decision to adopt The novel opens at the airport where the Donaldsons and the Yazdans wait for the daughters they ve adopted from Korea to arrive Bitsy and Brad Donaldson, their parents, siblings, nieces and nephews are all there, loud, boisterous, excited to welcome the new addition to their family Jin Ho They virtually take over the gate area Lost at the back of the crowd wait Maryam, her son, Sami, and his American Iranian wife, Ziba Maryam Yazdan had come to America as a young bride and was widowed before she was forty She retains the reserved, formal demeanor of her Iranian upbringing Though they don t express it outwardly, the Yazdans are just as excited to welcome Sooki, whom they will call Susan, to their family Tyler writes so well about family dynamics, about all the little events in our lives that both form and show who we are One sentence perfectly sums it up Like most life altering moments, it was disappointingly lacking in drama. Over the course of the novel the reader will witness many of these little moments, will watch as two families come together based on a chance meeting, will learn how they differ and how they are the same The book also explores what it means to be American Maryam, having lived two thirds of her life in the United States, carrying an American passport, still feels like a foreigner Ziba, having come to America as a teenager, is fully assimilated, though she still speaks with a slight accent Bitsy could never be mistaken for anything but an American friendly and outgoing, offering her opinion on everything without a thought to how it might be received, and yet desperate to infuse her children s upbringing with some of their native cultures even when the kids want nothingthan to fit in with their peers, and not wear those ridiculous outfits As I got to know these characters, I grew to love them And I wanted to give them all a big hug at the end Blair Brown does a fine job narrating the audiobook She s a talented actress and breathes life into all these characters I particularly liked the way she interpreted Maryam and Bitsy, two women who are virtually polar opposites. First of all, I m a HUGE Anne Tyler fan To my mind, she can do no wrong Reading one of her books is like curling up on the couch in a baggy cashmere sweater That said, this is definitely not one of her strongest She doesn t develop the characters in any particularly complex way and it s really hard to step into their shoes Usually her portrayals of families are so hauntingly real, it s almost uncomfortable to read about them, but here it read like the setting the scene for a family drama on Lifetime Held up next to Jhumpa Lahiri s The Namesake, which deals with similar themes, Digging to America doesn t gain any traction at all. The book I d give 5 stars but only 4 for the audiobook version Was it the fault of the recording company Or the performer Or both When the reader s general reading was great but the central character is Iranian and she voiced her with an Indian accent Never mind that she pronounced many of the Farsi words incorrectly Surely there are plenty of performers in the U.S who can do an accurate Farsi accent As far as the content, Anne Tyler has a huge heart, gigantic enough to love people, flawed as we all can be at times A down to earth story about how when it all comes down to it, we re just people.