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Review – The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan


The Middle Place
by Kelly Corrigan
262 pages
Published January 8, 2008

I don’t normally read books like The Middle Place. Memoirs are something I don’t just shy away from, but run screaming in the other direction. What sold me on The Middle Place was the video I’ve posted below. Kelly Corrigan does a reading of an essay she did about women and friendships, and when tears were rolling down my cheeks by the end of the video, I knew I wouldΒ read her book.

The middle place, according to the author, is “that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap.” “And that’s what this whole thing is about. Calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork — a marriage license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns — clearly indicates you’re an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you’re still somebody’s daughter.”

The Middle Place is about Kelly Corrigan growing up with the coolest dad ever (nicknamed Greenie, for reasons that are explained in the book and are laugh out loud funny), and finding out in her mid-30s that she has breast cancer. Seven months into her chemotherapy treatments, her family finds out that her dad has bladder cancer. The chapters alternate between stories Kelly has about growing up and her documenting her time with cancer.

Here’s the problem with memoirs: I can’t tell you anymore of the story! Or I will have retold the memoir, only less funny. So I’ll stop talking about the story and talk about other stuff.

Like Kelly’s honesty! Okay, maybe it’s because I haven’t had cancer, but I really focused on Kelly’s relationship with her husband and her dad, as opposed to her cancer and chemotherapy (though that was very touching, it just wasn’t the part that resonated with me). And there’s times that I would blush, thinking, “OMG, Kelly, NO! Don’t say that! You’re putting yourself in a very bad light! Which is to say, you’re coming across as human.” Like the time she got in a fight with her husband about how he would call his parents once a week on Saturdays. She comes off as rather bitchy, but the lovely part is she doesn’t defend herself, she doesn’t try to make it right. It’s just there, out on display.

So the whole reason I wanted to read this book RIGHT NOW was because the author was making an appearance at a local bookstore, and I totally wanted to see her, hoping she’d read the Transcending thing that is in the video above. (She didn’t.) When I got there, the place was absolutely buzzing. More so than bookstores do for other authors, and I think it was the memoir thing, because people felt a connection to her. Kelly was FABULOUS! She has a really cute voice andΒ she’s really cute herself with this spikey haircut and glasses that have a dark frame (just like mine!). She read two chapters from her book, and her tone and inflection really added to the story. The audience was in love, as was I. After a Q&A, people went up to have their book signed,Β but I didn’t have a book because I’d checked mine out from the library, and as good as the memoir was, I knew I wouldn’t want to re-read it. So I waited around until the crowd dispersed and went up to say hi while she was signing books for the store. Here’s how it went:


Me: Hi!

Kelly Corrigan (KC): Hi!

Me: I don’t have a book for you to sign.


KC: (says nothing,Β just looks at me)

Me: (thinking to myself, GAH! WHY DID I SAY THAT! DO OVER! DO OVER!) Uh, *nervous laugh* I think I need to start over.

Author and bookstore workers are just staring at me.

Me: Umm, I just wanted to say that I don’t normally read memoirs…BUT I READ YOURS! because of that essay you wrote that’s now a video?

KC: Transcending?

Me: Yeah, that one. And I loved it and decided to read your book after watching that.

KC: (Smiles but says nothing).

Me: And I have a blog! And I’ll be posting about your appearance here! Here’s my card…

KC: Great! You can just set it down there.

Me: Okay, there ya go. Well, that’s all. I just wanted to tell you I really liked your book.

KC : Thank you.

Me: (I walk away, kicking myself and telling myself that those were the LAMEST THINGS I’VE EVER SAID)

Seriously. HOW LAME AM I?! I was really stoked to talk to her, but when I got up there, I just drew a blank. I’d normally email the author and gush some more and let her know my post is up, but I think I’ll be quiet and just try to forget that ever happened. And hope that she forgets me. And also hope that she forgot about me before she was able to relive my lameness with her husband and friends.

Is there medication for people like me? Because there should be.

Rating: 88 out of 100

Author’s website | Powell’s | Amazon

Other reviews:

The Written Word

Book Addiction

A Patchwork of Books

| Tags: , , , , , , 41 comments »

41 Responses to “Review – The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan”

  1. Stephanie

    Talk about honest – at least you didn’t try to sugar-coat your meeting with the author. If I ever get to meet her, I’ll be sure to put in a good word for ya!


    trish Reply:

    Thanks! I’ll need it. πŸ™‚ She’s the kind of person you wish you were friends with. If you don’t make a complete fool of yourself. πŸ˜‰


  2. Care

    You are TOO adorable! and Stephanie is even MORE adorable for offering to put in a good word for you. Borders was pushing this book at me so hard last time I was there, I actually thought of NOT reading it, but your review makes me want to read it now anyway. πŸ™‚


  3. HelenB

    Sounds like you came down with an acute case of admiritis! It produces large quantities of sudden awkwardness in people when they’re meeting someone that they admire! It’s most commonly found in pre-teen girls who are about to meet Zac Efron.

    Great review – I’ll definitely check this one out!


  4. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Oh man I never know what to say to authors, especially when I haven’t read their books. At least you’d read her book and had something to say! πŸ™‚


  5. Ali

    Thanks for the reminder that I want to read this–I saw the video a while ago and posted it on my personal blog because it was so beautiful. You should totally email her and point her to your blog, because then she’ll see that in actuality you are articulate and funny and cool, and were just temporarily impersonating a nervous person with nothing to say!


    trish Reply:

    Thanks for your vote of confidence, Ali, but I’m going to stick with the “hope she can’t remember me” route. If I ever see her again, I’m definitely wearing a wig.


  6. Joy

    Thanks for the morning laugh! Seriously though, I’m sorry that it didn’t go as you might have wished or had planned, but hey – you’re human. πŸ™‚

    Still grinning . . .


  7. Kathy

    Well, I do love a good memoir – I’m actually a sucker for them. I love that video too, so I guess I need to read the book. I’ve been tongue-tied around authors before, too. They’re just like rock stars to me!


    trish Reply:

    Exactly! Authors are my rock stars…they’re not like us Joe Readers.


  8. Julie P.

    You are so funny! I am dying to read this book especially after watching that video.


  9. Karen H.

    I can tell you, as an author, I’ve been on the OTHER side of that kind of author/reader exchange and I have many lame moments where my mouth didn’t work and I felt like I wanted to sink into the bookstore carpet. πŸ™‚ It’s much, much more terrifying as an author, I can tell you. I met Kelly at a conference in January and had that same inspiring experience as she read from her terrific book.


    trish Reply:

    Karen, you don’t know how much better it made me feel to read your comment. Fingers crossed I can see the author again and have my “do over”.


  10. Meghan

    I know I’d have trouble remembering what I wanted to say in front of an author I really admired! This book sounds like it would be a hard one for me to read since I’ve had too much experience with cancer in my immediate family, but maybe with a few years’ distance. It does sound funny and wonderful otherwise, though.


  11. S, Krishna

    GREAT review! You’ve made me want to read this book.


  12. Beth F

    Thanks. (can’t say anything else right now)


  13. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Gah! I don’t think I’d have the nerve to approach an author at a signing without a book. You are one brave woman. I’m so sad you don’t read memoirs. They are some of my absolute favorite books!


    trish Reply:

    Don’t be sad for me. That means there’s just more for you to read. πŸ˜‰ (you know, like when your kids don’t like something that’s really tasty…”That’s okay! There’s more for me!”)


  14. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Aw, shucks. I’ve done similar. I get terribly tongue-tied around authors whose books I admired. Usually, I do go ahead and buy the book, though. I think that’s part of the point — you’re showing your support by purchasing a copy. But, I don’t always even want the book (especially if it’s in hardback — which they usually are, during signings).


    trish Reply:

    I agree about buying a book when going to an author signing. However, I can’t buy every book I want, so I made up for it (in my mind) by buying a different book from the store: Child 44. I can’t WAIT to read that book!


  15. Nicole O'Dell

    Saw your tweet about this and had to read it. I love reading about other people’s social faux pas because then I don’t feel so badly about my own. πŸ™‚

    One time I bought a book called “The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break” without knowing a thing about it just because the author was there to sign it. I think that was 16 years ago and I still haven’t read it. oops.


    trish Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by, Nicole! Did you see my post about how I tripped and fell while getting on to the bus? Apparently, grace, whether with my feet or my mouth, is not coming naturally these days. πŸ˜›


  16. ammo

    Well, as I have been there times before; I try to see it as the better experence at least you did not trip, fall and knock over a disply right in front of her – See it always can go worse πŸ™‚


  17. chartroose

    Why did she just sit there and say nothing during those embarassing moments? It was HER fault for not trying to put you more at ease. Now I don’t like her. BLAH!


    trish Reply:

    Thanks for having my back, Char!


  18. sarah pekkanen

    Oh no — please don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s possible she is very shy (many authors are) and wasn’t quite sure how to respond either…. An old friend of mine had a reading/launch party for his book recently and he looked exactly the way I felt during my wedding — totally dazed and overwhelmed by all the attention. I’m sure an author like Kelly, who has probably been traveling and reading nonstop, is exhausted and maybe worried about her kids back at home and wondering if the reading went well and is thinking about how she can write another book, etc etc. So don’t beat yourself up! Send her this fabulous blog. She will love it!


    trish Reply:

    Thanks for your comment! It’s nice to hear it from an author’s perspective. Sometimes we focus too much on ourselves, never thinking what it might have been like from the other person’s perspective…so thanks for the reminder!

    But I still think I’ll just let this rest and the next time I have the chance to meet her, I’ll be sure to wear a hat…and not give her my card. πŸ™‚


  19. Jessica

    you are so cute. Send her the link! DO IT!


    trish Reply:

    I can’t! My fingers won’t do the walkin’! πŸ˜‰


  20. Staci

    I’m sure that if I met an author in person I would freeze up and be all tongue-tied and then kick myself because 2 hours later I would think of all of these great and amazing things I should’ve said!! Loved your review and this book is on my TBR list.


  21. Margaret Snyder

    I agree with what everyone else is saying. Send Kelly the blog. She will see that you are so much more than your were at the meeting. Sometimes we all get tongue tied. Probably even her! I like that you had the gumption to go up to her at all…alot of people wouldn’t. I met the former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, at a brunch restaurant because I had the nerve to go and ask for a picture with her. Sometimes you just have to and sometimes you get all flustered but at least you tried. Good for you.


  22. jennygirl

    Oh please don’t feel too bad. I did the same thing a few years ago. The Yarn Harlot had a book tour and if it wasn’t for the sock I brought we would have said nothing to each other. Talk about corny!
    I don’t usually read memoirs either, but you make a compelling case for this one.


  23. Sadako

    Looks like a great memoir, thanks for posting about it. And even though the interview may not have gone perfectly, it was still fun to read about.


  24. avisannschild

    Sounds to me like she was also “temporarily impersonating a nervous person with nothing to say” (as Ali said), so don’t be too hard on yourself, Trish! I agree with others, send her a link to your post! It’s definitely made me want to read her book.

    Thanks also for the video; it’s fantastic and had the same effect on me as it had on you (tears included)!


  25. zibilee

    I probably would have reacted the same way, so don’t beat yourself up over it. This sounds like a great book, I am definitely going to check this one out. Great review btw!


  26. Heather

    I’m so glad you suspended your hatred of memoirs to read this one because I liked it too. Thanks for being so honest about your encounter with Corrigan – I personally have never met an author in person but I am 99% sure that I would be just as awkward – it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. πŸ™‚


  27. Lisamm

    OH, Trish, you are so darn cute. That sounds just like the kind of awkward encounter I might have with an author. You should send her this, seriously. She’d probably get such a big kick out of it.


  28. This Blogging Thing Reminds Me of High School | Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

    […] Why can’t I be as chummy with authors as so-and-so? (erm…that might have something to do with my amazing ability to stuff both feet in my mouth at the same time and still talk) […]

  29. Sally McCartin

    Hey Trish–hilarious post and guess what–I am Kelly’s publicist so I’ll make sure she sees your wonderful write-up of the evening (if you want me to–only if you want me to but I think she would totally get a kick out of it. Glad you got to meet her–she’s an amazing person to work with! Authors love meeting readers who have read their book whether they bought it or borrowed it! And they are often as shy about these one-on-ones as you felt.


  30. Kelly Corrigan

    Oh I wish I had seen this sooner. You can always talk to me. It’s crazy to think that I may have made you nervous.

    Silly, silly girl. I am just like you. Just a slightly luckier version.


    ps You’ll get a kick out of this video —


  31. Ti

    I’ve witnessed your excitement over meeting an author first hand and it’s really quite charming. I know you feel geeky and like you sometimes say the wrong things but that is what makes you so charming. We just get caught up in the excitement and I’m sure the authors understand that too.


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