Book Review- "I Smile, But Who Am I Kidding?" by Melissa Meszaros


Hello my lovelies,
I am so behind on posting this review but better late than never I suppose. This is my first nonfiction review so bear with me please. Up on deck is Melissa Meszaros’ memoir, I Smile, But Who Am I Kidding?

 

ISBWAIK is divided into three parts: Girl, Groupie, and Mother. And so Melissa takes us through her life as she sees herself in those three titles.  In the Girl section, she navigates adolescent dating in “So Eighth Grade”, visiting her dying grandmother in the hospital while tripping on LSD in “Finale” and the living in the “in between” of life between college and MFA programs.
While Girl is a good setup for the memoir, the heart and soul lies in the Groupie and Mother sections. I won’t do a breakdown of the six essays that comprise these two sections (I want to leave mystery for you future readers) but I will explore some of my favorite parts.
In “Whoever You Are,” Melissa talks about meeting Anton Newcombe, lead singer of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I like how she describes the chills she gets when he greets her with a simple hello. It reminds me of the chills I got when I was acknowledged for the first time by a musician I was in love with, and the feeling I still get when acknowledged by writers I admire.
“Outside, crouched in the corner with my bag, I smoked another cigarette and marveled at my instant bravado; Jekyll and Hyde had nothing on me.” (Pg. 43-44)
In “J. Burrows” there is the pain of seeing the empty shell of a friend damaged from a car accident. I love the short sentences. Each one punctuating how time slows in moments like those.
“I go to Joel. I lean in. I search his eyes for news of my fate, for a trace of the Joel I know.
I reach for his shaky hands. There’s nothing.” (Pg. 67)
Some of the essays cover the same topic but in each essay they reveal something different. There is always a further perspective of emotion from the author and that translates very well for the reader, especially when she is talking about the loss of her daughter. I can’t possible convey the scope of grief that comes with a child’s passing but “Aya” is a beautiful tribute of words while exploring that grief.
Melissa Meszaros teaches writing at Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro, Oregon. She graduated from Antioch University Los Angeles’ distinguished MFA in Creative Writing program and has written four other books: A Toast to Never, Disco Sex, This Broken Record, and The Lost Art of Murder. She was born in Pennsylvania and lives in Portland, Oregon.
You can order “I Smile, But Who Am I Kidding?” from Lulu or Amazon. Also please send me an email or leave a comment if you want to send Melissa some congrats on her awesome book. Also, I’d love to hear if you’ve read the book and what your thoughts are.
So overall, a good memoir and a recommended read.
Coming up next folks is a review on the new poetry chapbook from Allie Marini Batts, a review on the spoken word/music CD from We Voice Sing, the next installment from the Andrew Ursler series by Mario Piumetti and an update from little ol’ me (not necessarily in that order).
See you around the funny farm,
Ashley
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