Jan Stafford Kellis

Memorable Memoirs

I just finished reading two memoirs, each one interesting and completely different from the other. The first one I read was Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende, which takes place in Haines, Alaska. We just returned from a visit to Haines in August, and I bought this book as a gift for my friend who was taking good care of my dog while we traveled. We frequently buy each other books so we can swap them at the next Bookworms Anonymous meeting, which is how I came to read this one (www.bookwormsanonymous.com). Heather recounts her life-threatening, life-altering, life-affirming accident and her rescue and recovery, as well as other events over the span of about two years, sharing her daily life, funny and sad moments and her spiritual growth. She depicts her small, friendly town well–I felt like I was there again and longed to return, to meet more people and maybe even meet Heather at the Mountain Market for a cup of coffee.

After Heather’s spirit-lifting tale I began reading At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream by Wade Rouse. This hilarious tale takes place in southern Michigan, near the Saugatuck-Douglas area, and it’s about Wade’s and his partner Gary’s quest to live a Thoreau-esque life by leaving behind all of their “urban tchotchke” and living the simple life in a cabin in the woods. Wade’s recounting of their adventures in WalMart and gardening and his descriptions of everything from the locals’ appearances and attitudes to his own wardrobe had me laughing out loud. Gary channels Lucy Ricardo, seeking guidance on social etiquette and expectations. He intersperses his own tale with passages from Thoreau’s Walden, and shares some of his childhood angst and the challenges and prejudice he faced growing up gay. I recommend this to anyone who needs a good belly laugh–it’s like a sitcom in print.