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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caldwell unble to decide if memoir is to be pretentious or powerful, December 31, 2007
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This review is from: A Strong West Wind: A Memoir (Paperback)
Memoirist Gail Caldwell is unable to make up her mind in "A Strong West Wind," her recounting of the Texas panhandle influences that formed her character. A distinguished Pulitzer-Prize winning literary critic, Caldwell repeatedly emphasizes the role of books in childhood. In so doing, however, the author never establishes a relationship with the reader. Instead, Caldwell uses a ham-handed approach by showing off just how many books she has read and how many literary allusions match her life's experiences. Making readers scurry for either a dictionary or a compendium of "Who's Who" in literature, she is little more than a pretentious, self-obsessed show-off in more than half the book. When Caldwell dispenses with her need to prove to the world that she has read every important book ever printed and focuses on the significant events and people in her life, her memoir comes to life. Caldwell's treatment of family, social upheaval and war rings with courage, truth and sensitivity.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 10, 2008 7:28:01 PM PDT
Really Bruce! I'd expect that had you read the number of books she had you would want to acknowledge how the readings have influenced your life. I am not particularly well read, but what few I have read - I enjoy mentioning because they had something to say and influenced my thinking. I do not know you, but I'd expect anyone holding a view such as yours is envious of that "girl" who was able to read all those books and retain the information. I did not at all get the impression she was showing off; but maybe that's because I am in awe of anyone who can read so much. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 6:34:09 AM PDT
I appreciate Steve's point of view. Ms. Caldwell displayed an extraordinary intellectual curiosity and a tremendous thirst for knowledge. I have respect for anyone who yearns to expand his/her world through the written word. Nevertheless, I still believe this memoir was excessively pedantic and boastful. In far too many instances, the memoirist determined to show off rather than explain. In doing so, she alienates herself from the reader, elevating herself far, far above not only her Texas origins, but her reading audience. Instead of illuminating her life, Caldwell spends far too much of her and our time promoting herself.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2014 6:49:23 AM PST
J. OBrien says:
Sounds like she hit a nerve.
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