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Nothing Left to Burn

– tekijä: Jay Varner

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
382533,096 (3.14)-
Nothing Left to Burn is a remarkable memoir that looks into the life of a family that has spent years harboring secrets, both dark and volatile. It eloquently tells the story of a son's relationship with his father, the fire chief and a local hero, and his grandfather, a serial arsonist. When Jay Varner, fresh out of college, returns home to work for the local newspaper, he knows that he will have to deal with the memories of a childhood haunted by a grandfather who was both menacing and comical and by a father who died too young and who never managed to be the father Jay so desperately needed him to be. In digging into the past, he uncovers layers of secrets, lies, and half-truths. It is only when he finally has the truth in hand that he comes to an understanding of the forces that drove his father, and of the fires that for all his efforts his father could never extinguish.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 2/2
It's hard for me to rate a memoir. Am I rating based on the author's writing, how exciting their life is or how much I like them?
I like Jay Varner. He seems like a good guy. His life isn't extraordinary. Yes, his grandfather was a pyromaniac and his father a firefighter. His father died when he was young. That's not enough to base a book on. The saving grace here is that Jay is a good storyteller. The ordinary childhood that he had was easy to relate to. Grew up in a small town, dad gone a lot for work, parent gets sick.
The best part of this book? It stirred up my own childhood memories and provided me with a nice trip down memory lane. ( )
  sjurban | Jan 14, 2011 |
Jay's father, Denton, was the chief of a volunteer fire department in a small town. His career started early, and he rose to be one of the town's most recognizable mascots. He was known for his devotion to the community and his singular focus on both preventing and fighting fires. It comes as little surprise in the reading that Denton's own father, Lucky, was an arsonist. Jay describes growing up in such a volatile environment, where much of the community was clued in to the disparate activities of his father and grandfather. It's clear that one man was trying to find redemption for the deeds of his father.

Memoirs are tough to read, and I imagine they'd be hard to write. You don't have the luxury of fiction to soften the blows or shine a more flattering light on yourself as you would a created character. Jay Varner even acknowledges that there would have been no way to write this fictionally-no one would be able to believe it all. After much thought, no doubt weighing the consequences, he decides to write the story of his family. What he exposes is painful and ugly and improbable, yet it rings true.

The history begins with Jay's return to his small hometown, complete with a new job as a journalist with the local paper. The community appears amused by this latest generation of Varner, especially in that his beat includes reporting fires. Jay alternates between present and past as he reveals his childhood, the death of his father, and his own changing face in the community. At moments, when discussing his father's frequent absences, his words uncover the pain he felt at being secondary to the needs of others. In discussing the procedures of writing obituaries and local fires and accidents, his words seem almost profound as he describes the numbness that envelopes him after he gets used to the frequent suicides and accidents. He is meticulous in his details, and while it's not fiction, many twists still surprise the reader. He clearly wants to find the link that would explain both men's fixations on fire, and yet their completely differing acts. To the last page, astonishing details are revealed.

And yet...as I said at first, memoirs are difficult because of what they reveal. Perhaps because I've been reading a great deal about Siberia and the Holocaust, I feel a bit impatient with Varner's more childish complaints. He repeats continually during the first half of the book how often his father abandoned him for others, and recounts in detail all the milestones of his life that his father missed. It's clear that it caused him pain then, as well as now. In the second half of the book, in the aftermath of his father's death, he still tends to focus on what he and his mother missed out on, and how the community shut them out. Not to minimize his pain, but his focus seems to be inordinately about his own disappointments rather than searching out their cause. Towards the end, he does acknowledge that there must have been reasons for the strange behavior of his grandfather, but he doesn't go any deeper.

Since he was trained as a journalist, I would have expected him to cover both sides of his family's history, yet he admits most of his information about the past comes from his mother and his mother's family. This omission seems a bit jarring, especially in that he clearly dislikes his father's family and spends a large portion of the text with a negative focus on them. There isn't a single positive thing said about them, the focus being only on their crazy behavior and his sense of embarrassment of being connected to them. While his memoir is undoubtedly gripping, I'm left with a sense that there's even more to the story. ( )
  BlackSheepDances | Sep 25, 2010 |
näyttää 2/2
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Kanoninen teoksen nimi
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
Henkilöt/hahmot
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Tärkeät tapahtumat
Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Epigrafi (motto tai mietelause kirjan alussa)
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Ensimmäiset sanat
Sitaatit
Viimeiset sanat
Erotteluhuomautus
Julkaisutoimittajat
Kirjan kehujat
Alkuteoksen kieli
Kanoninen DDC/MDS
Kanoninen LCC

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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Nothing Left to Burn is a remarkable memoir that looks into the life of a family that has spent years harboring secrets, both dark and volatile. It eloquently tells the story of a son's relationship with his father, the fire chief and a local hero, and his grandfather, a serial arsonist. When Jay Varner, fresh out of college, returns home to work for the local newspaper, he knows that he will have to deal with the memories of a childhood haunted by a grandfather who was both menacing and comical and by a father who died too young and who never managed to be the father Jay so desperately needed him to be. In digging into the past, he uncovers layers of secrets, lies, and half-truths. It is only when he finally has the truth in hand that he comes to an understanding of the forces that drove his father, and of the fires that for all his efforts his father could never extinguish.

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