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Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in…
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Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life (vuoden 2018 painos)

– tekijä: Yiyun Li (Auteur)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
19324108,104 (3.53)18
"Yiyun Li's searing personal story of hospitalizations for depression and thoughts of suicide is interlaced with reflections on the solace and affirmations of life and personhood that Li found in reading the journals, diaries, and fiction of other writers: William Trevor, Katherine Mansfield, and more"--… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:maureentakoma
Teoksen nimi:Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life
Kirjailijat:Yiyun Li (Auteur)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2018), Edition: Reprint, 224 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
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Teoksen tarkat tiedot

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life (tekijä: イーユン リー)

  1. 00
    Contents May Have Shifted (tekijä: Pam Houston) (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both books are thoughtful, serious looks at how and why we stay alive despite feeling suicidal.
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 24) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
An Author Disconnected from the Present

I feel more than the usual unease about the uncharitable things I want to say about this book, because the book is a modestly recounted meditation about a period of suicidal depression. As Michael Hofmann says in the "London Review of Books," Yiyun Li's book is "intimate, but not personal; or personal, but not private"(June 2017), and it is as literary as Pessoa or Vila-Matas. There are any number of complimentary things that could be said about her attempts at honesty and truth.

A fair amount of the book is about writers, and readers, and the literary life, and it is very much concerned with communities and possibilities for understanding and empathy. But I felt consistently excluded from the book's imaginary roster of readers, because the writers who engage her imagination, both as models for her own writing and as lives she can hope to understand, are so conservative. The book ends with a partial list of writers she has mentioned; they include Austen, Chekhov, Hardy, Hemingway, Tolstoy, Mansfield, and Turgenev. There are a few moderns, mainly Larkin (d. 1985) and Moore (d. 1972).

Li opens and closes the book with stories about her friendship with the Irish authors William Trevor and John McGahern. Those choices epitomize my unhappiness. They were both excellent writers, but also among the most conservative of their generation. Not only are the modernists missing (Joyce is hardly mentioned), but so is the entire last fifty years of Irish fiction. Surely Li knows many of them personally, since she teaches at Princeton and has attended writers' events for decades. But modernists, pstmodernists, and younger writers do not impinge on her imagination, despite the fact that many have written about the same issues that preoccupy her in this book. (I'm thinking of Enright and McBride in particular.)

The authors she reads are this book's main interlocutors, much more prominent than the scattered (and often susprisingly painful) memories of her mother, her friends, or her fellow patients. It makes sense that what matters most are the authors' letters, not their fiction, because this book is about imaginative connections between lives, and not the craft of fiction. In that sense it may not be cogent to complain that Li cites mainly 19th and early 20th century writers. But younger writers, postmodern writers, contemporary writers, also write letters, and novels about letters. Li could just as easily have found her issues there.

This is why I feel compelled to make this complaint, and why I sense I am excluded from the otherwise accommodating field of this book's imagined readers. In my own field, the history of art, there is a history of modern Chinese artists responding to the more conservative strains of modernism: Matisse instead of Picasso, the School of Paris instead of surrealism, neoromanticism instead of conceptual art, and so on. Even now the traces of those preferences can be found in art academies and in work that does not participate in the uniform expectations of the international art market. I can't help but see Yiyun Li as part of that same phenomenon, but whatever the reasons, her choices exclude me from the roster of writers I am invited to imagine she might engage. And that's a pity, because her book could only have been written in the 21st century. Its honesty about suicide, its affinity to autofiction, its fragmented self-questioning, all make it contemporary, but the literary world that provides its stories ended in the last century.
1 ääni JimElkins | Mar 8, 2020 |
3 5 stars ( )
  steller0707 | Aug 25, 2019 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
I've waited so long to read this and write my review because Li and I share many of the same characteristics in our suicidal depressions. It's been a bit difficult to read, in other words. So I skimmed much of this book and my review is therefore much less trustworthy than the others on this page.

As I read the first half of this book I had the uncomfortable feeling of looking into my own yawning void. It wasn't illuminating, just familiar. I kept comparing this book to Pam Houston's Contents May Have Shifted, also a first-person narrative about trying not to kill yourself. Reading Houston's book, I felt the narrator's white-knuckled grip on the edge of everything, her desperate, slipping hold. And when she got a firmer grip, even if she didn't help me get mine, I felt like she told me some lovely things about what we do while we're here. With Li's book, on the other hand, I'd nod my head yes and wonder why, why any of this. Like I said, this was hard to read.

Li seems unable to stand the aching void, too. Her book is about suicidality; no, it's about being a writer; no it's about psych hospitalizations; no, it's about reading other authors; no, it's about being in the Army, it's about her mother. By the last third or so, it all makes sense as you realize that all the diversions, all her reading of Thomas Hardy, Katherine Mansfield, Soren Kierkegaard and others has been about avoidance and survival for Li, as it was for some of them, as it has been for me. So by the end of the book I was no longer skimming.

I don't know what to rate this. As a representation of suicidality, it's spot-on. As a sophisticated, postmodern narrative that averts and inverts it's self-regarding gaze, it's a marvel. As a work of literary commentary, it's unique and valuable. Yet as a reading experience, solely for me, it fails. How many stars is that?
  susanbooks | Jan 20, 2019 |
The nine essays that comprise this collection might be considered an act of revelation or disguise. It’s hard to know with Yiyun Li. She admits to being a recluse, to seeking to disappear, to refraining from engagement with others, to seeking to end her own life (more than once). Yet at the same time she writes with such honesty, painfully sometimes, about events in her life, her emigration to America, her adoption of English as her principal language, her shift, apparently suddenly, from immunology to writing. You might guess that she’s a bit conflicted. However, and thankfully, not so when she is engaging with the literature that has inspired and challenged her to write, including the work of Elizabeth Bowen, Marianne Moore, Turgenev, John McGahern, Stefan Zweig, Thomas Hardy, and William Trevor.

Famously, Li read a William Trevor story while in graduate school in Iowa City, and shortly thereafter changed her field of study from immunology to creative writing. It sounds implausible. And certainly, when you learn of her love of Turgenev as a teenager, her brilliance in both arts and science as student, her incredible ability to absolutely pour herself into the object of her efforts — you suspect that she was always already on the verge of becoming a serious writer. Later, after she has dramatically established herself through her first published stories and had attained a significant level of acclaim in America, she slipped into depression and attempted suicide, which resulted in two lengthy stays in hospital. In effect, this book is Li’s attempt to work through her vulnerabilities by re-engaging with the literature she admires. Perhaps not surprisingly there are a number of tragic figures included amongst her literary heroes.

Li’s writing is unemotional (maybe). She analyses. She considers. She worries. She worries herself and her theses, running back and forth across them, without reaching final conclusions. She remains tentative and uncertain about much, and her remaining certainties cause her to doubt herself. Her affection and respect for some writers is illuminating. But with her final essay about the transformational effect William Trevor had upon her life-course, and her later friendship with him, it’s clear that love is not too strong of a descriptor.

Well worth reading, thinking about and thinking through. Recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Nov 25, 2018 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
There are so many things about this book . . . I need to process. It's been with me for months already; I won it on LibraryThing back in March, started reading in April, then moved cross-country and didn't get back to it until September (I actively missed it when I wasn't reading). I used up an entire package of blades of grass page markers and I'm glad the book is a personal copy, because they're staying in there forever.

"Often I think that writing is a futile effort; so is reading; so is living. Loneliness is the inability to speak with another in one's private language. That emptiness is filled with public language or romanticized connections. But one must be cautious when assuming meaning. A moment of recognition between two people only highlights the inadequacy of language. What can be spoken does not sustain; what cannot be spoken undermines."
  mirikayla | Oct 16, 2018 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 24) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Kanoninen teoksen nimi
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Henkilöt/hahmot
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Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
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Ensimmäiset sanat
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Viimeiset sanat
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"Yiyun Li's searing personal story of hospitalizations for depression and thoughts of suicide is interlaced with reflections on the solace and affirmations of life and personhood that Li found in reading the journals, diaries, and fiction of other writers: William Trevor, Katherine Mansfield, and more"--

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