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All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: An American Misfit in India Kindle Edition
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"Reads like a novel and lingers in the mind"--Kirkus
Library Journal Review /August 2005
Oct. 2005. c.349p. ISBN 1-59486-139-0. $23.95. AUTOBIOG Less a travelog than a childhood memoir, Brown's book is a witty account of growing up on an ashram in India. On the surface, life is anything but funny. The ashram is peppered with, well, kooks. Brown (the erstwhile
"Mani") has stones thrown at her by her classmates at the local Catholic school, her teachers hit her, and her parents eventually divorce. And then there are the mysteries: was her mother abused as a child, was their guru really God (or just someone who thought he was), why does the ashram librarian growl outside her bedroom window? Mani copes through it all by reading and trying to emulate Indian warrior-heroes throughout history.
Above all, what sees her through a traumatic childhood is her gift to tell a good story. Like David Sedaris with his accounts of growing up in a dysfunctional family, Brown, who received an MFA in playwriting from UCLA and has written for television, the stage, and print media, allows the reader to laugh and wince at the same time. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- Publication Date : October 17, 2006
- File Size : 2308 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 352 pages
- Publisher : Rodale Books (October 17, 2006)
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Language: : English
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- ASIN : B00AY70ZJA
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,354 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Although I am a native Texan, (not of the same mindset as a certain ex-president), I lived for many years in India. I married there and my son was born there. From my own experiences, I found nothing remotely unusual about the incidents in the book. Everything seemed very believable and normal. However there was definitely a large degree of "cherry picking" which favoured the unpleasant and tended to neglect the positive aspects of life in India. This tended to portray her childhood as being traumatic, while I feel that in reality it was probably a very rich upbringing.
Is this an indication of some deep maladjustment on the part of the author? (note the rhetorical question;-) Possibly - but not necessarily. This style has become a very marketable formula in an already troubled publishing industry. It has become so over used that it is becoming cliche. However it was still the "in" style at the time that this book was being put together.
We must also remember that a book is not just the work of one writer. As the book goes from the writer to the agent, and then to the publisher, there are numerous editorial changes. At some point the author looses control of the work. One cannot help but notice that the style of the book changes in the last quarter. Although this is pure conjecture on my point, I am hazarding a guess that this change reflects editorial input designed to make the book more marketable. I am guessing that it is the first three quarters of the book which is closer to the author's original writing style. But I would love to hear from someone who is much closer to the author concerning this point.
Well that is just my two bits worth.
I'm slightly internet acquainted with the author, so when the book came out I bought it here, to support someone I "know" -- an interesting and increasing phenomenon -- and then let it sit on the shelf for several weeks. Yesterday afternoon I picked it up as I was cleaning the house, and read the first chapter.
And was riveted. Brown's eye for detail, her use of language, her humor and candour make this a pleasurable read. The circumstances she describes make it gripping. I'd cruise along, snickering at the eccentricity of the people around her, and then be stopped in my tracks, sometimes by horror at the things she and the children around her endured at school, and sometimes by the beauty she managed to find in a distinctly un-beautiful landscape.
What struck me in retrospect, after reading comments here and elswhere on the net, was something I didn't really recognize as I read it, though it was in front of my eyes. Brown doesn't ridicule the people who surrounded her at the ashram, she views them with the ruthless logic of a child, and all the while looks at the adults around her with the unspoken question "Don't you people see that this is seriously screwy? Is it just me?" The question is there in the book -- Brown was clear from the start that she got that things were skewed and that the adults didn't get it -- but I didn't recognize the voice and mindset of that questioning until I thought back. Brown was a rational seven year old set down in a completely irrational situation. That she was able, twenty or so years later, to write about it with humor as well as horror is a testament to her resilience.
This is an unforgettable read. Highly, highly recommended.