My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A good memoir amid the detritus of in-vogue memoirs is a gemstone, like a treasure island descried by a weary sailor. Marry Ralph Waldo Emerson’s appreciation of travails of life as the best teachers with George Orwell’s no-nonsense realistic credo for writing. You will see that Stephanie Land’s eternal spirit fills the pages at the expense of her will with a sense of purpose and a tenacious grasp on intellectual superiority. It was a tide in her affair Stephanie Land was waiting while wiping a stranger’s dirty toilet bowel due to fortune’s malice or, shall I say, whims and caprice of the supreme beings?
Land’s memoir applies to Orwell’s tenets of “Why Am I Writing?” In it, four elements of writing are (1) aesthetic purposes, (2) sheer egoism, (3) political/social purposes, and (4) historical record. Contrary to most reviews of focusing the book on her single parenthood, I deem it to be her testament to her self-worth in a society where external achievement determines your character. In fact, Americans have a Calvinistic cast of minds in a puritanical cultural foundation that poverty is a priori resultant from laziness and that it should be dealt with scorn. American Catholics are not altogether generous because of John F. Kennedy’s adage to Americans: “Ask not what your county can do for you… ask what you can do for your country….” Land feels the hostility of the skewed, confused, maligned conservatism masqueraded as patriotism in an ordinary landscape of daily life. In writing, she potently and victoriously wields her pride smothered in want of bread and roof with her daughter.
Memoirs of rags-to-riches are thought to inspire readers with can-do attitudes fused with a dangerous combination of ephemeral hope and flippant desire that Thucydides warned of his progeny. However, they are self-treaties of achievements, usually despite the biological or sociological plane, and almost always with people who help them achieve their goals. Jeannette Walls of The Glass Castle was from a low-income family, but her family was loving, and she had scholarships and went to Barnard College and became a journalist. Hillbilly Elegy was touching, but the poor white boy who had a loving mother went to Yale and became a lawyer. But Stephanie Land is intelligent and honest, down-to-earth, and her issues and circumstances are more existential and relatable than what the mentioned above have famously accounted. Forget the dialectic classicism, forget the social reform, forget the right for single parenthood. It’s all about Stephanie Land’s dignity, her right to be happy, her yearning to be what she wants to be. So be it ever the nominative determinism, and it’s in the name. All who have the name Stephanie have that feistiness. Well done, Stephanie!
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‘Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land’ – book review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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