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 would 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 and 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, 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:
Kelly Corrigan (KC): Hi!
Me: I don’t have a book for you to sign.
KC: (says nothing, 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?
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