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Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One Paperback – January 14, 2015
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
About the Author
Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has. She’s written cookbooks, ten volumes of horrible poetry that she bound herself in leather she tanned poorly from cows she raised herself and then slaughtered because she was bored with farming. She has an entire portfolio of macaroni art that she’s never shown anyone, because she doesn't think that the general populous, or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them. Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell Find more of her writing at www.helenahb.com or connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat
Top customer reviews
Her memoirs have a sense of ‘je ne se qua’. Sophisticated and artistic pop culture commentary. Relatable stories, which seem to be inspired by real life. The blurb on the back of the book explains it well:
“Most – okay, some – of what follows is true.”
It was really hard to believe that a man (since the Author uses a female pen name) wrote some of the more painful stories, stories which seem too feminine of an experience. Perhaps men and women are really not very different after all.
Amongst my favorite in the collection of memoirs is the one titled:
Gotta catch ‘em all! (the modern young woman’s guide to choosing friends)
Sincerely, if you were to buy the book to only read that particular chapter it would have been money well spent. It is an excellent piece of sarcastic commentary on how shallow our society seems to have become. How labels have replaced human beings and us as a society seem to take offense with everything.
I recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s something a little bit different. Most likely it is not like anything you have ever read before. Defiantly something that will make you think about the world we live in. It’s charming, it’s painful, it’s fiction, it’s fact.
I give this a five out of five stars.
But let's be honest, we all view our lives in retrospect, and color our stories through the blurred lenses of memory. Whenever I read a memoirs of times long past,--20, 30, 40 years--filled with explicit details of what people wore or ate any given day, I immediately wonder, how can you possibly remember that? I don't trust the narrator. Unless someone has kept anal, detailed diaries of every moment of their lives or has a photographic memory of everything they've seen, said, or done, I tend to doubt their ability to clearly tell the stories of times long past.
That is why it was such a delight and relief to read MEMOIRS OF A DILETTANTE, VOLUME ONE by Helena Hann-Basquiat. Helena explains it herself on the very first page of the book:
". . . Whether for the sake of narrative,or because the bitter pill of truth is always easier to swallow with a candy coating of pretty lies, I may have blurred the lines between truth and fiction.
Consider this a cowardly confession; I find it easier to tell certain autobiographical tales if they are dressed up in another set of clothes. . . ."
Perhaps this caveat will make some say, well then this is fiction not memoir, and avid memoir fans will turn away, but it would be their loss. Who hasn't thought about telling their own story as if they were a character in a book, rather than the complete reality of their lives? Who hasn't embellished their own experiences somewhat to make their lives seem more exciting and interesting, or perhaps a little less terrifying? By claiming her persona of an unreliable narrator (which she does several times throughout the book) it enabled me, as a reader, to feel the honesty of the stories even underneath their gloss and glamour. I actually trusted the voice more, because I was not expected to believe everything as 100% truth--and that made it a richer, more powerful read that I absolutely loved.
Alternatively playful, poetic, powerful and poignant, my favorite dilettante delights readers with pop culture references and an ability with language that reminded me of one of my favorite television shows (The Gilmore Girls) although I'm not sure Helena herself would approve of that. Still, for me it high praise, as I always admire those who have the perfect turn of phrase and the ability to put our lives into perspective with the most astute and obscure pop culture references. Helena's book abounds with the music of the soundtrack of her life--a sound track that I would love to have. I always yearn for the perfect song to be playing in the background, the one that brings memories and stories to life in living color.
The dilettante does this and more, sharing a story that can't help but make you reflect on your own choices in life. I am looking forward to reading Memoirs of a Dilettante, Volume Two which is now available. Get your copy of both, it will be worth it!