Why reading and writing is the road to happiness...

This blog started years ago as a place to muse on the life projects keeping me entertained. It is no surprise then that it has morphed into a blog about my reading as that has been my lifelong project. Here I review lots of different types of books, with an added focus on Australian women writers. Hope you enjoy - feel free to contribute to the conversation!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Book Review - 'Banana Girl' by Michele Lee

'Banana Girl' is a 2013 memoir from Melbourne based writer Michele Lee. The memoir is a recent snapshot in time in her mid twenties when she is involved in the art scene, travelling to her parents' homeland of Laos on an Arts Grant, and dating in the inner city Melbourne scene. She uses nicknames to identify her lovers and moves between them and ex long term boyfriends. The memoir is billed as 'sexy, irreverent, affecting': I wouldn't rate is as sexy per se although the sex scenes are fine, well written but written in a distant voice that would suggest that Lee was not setting out to titillate the reader. The memoir was not really irreverent either but I will say that it was quite affecting in that I did enjoy reading it, and Lee maintained enough interest for me as a reader to care what was happening in her life. I think the analysis of what being an Asian woman in the current climate of Australia made this memoir a cut above the usual, and Lee does have a direct, yet poetic writing style:
"On Sundays, the extended family came to the Big House for day long family meals... In the living room, the men of the family sat discussing world affairs in sanctimonious, barking tones. Hmong, like other Asian languages, is tonal. Meaning removed, the converstaion had a swooping sound. Long words flew out and then snapped back".
One thing that did strike me as the reader was the baggage that I bought to the text: I'm at the close of my thirties and experienced much of this university, travelling, dating life and I suppose that I read Lee's examination of her casual sex with an older woman's viewpoint.It ofetn read with a tone of doubt, or defensiveness in it. I felt that she was looking for something more, despite her protests within the text that she was enjoying the freedoms that she was partaking in: but maybe that's just me projecting. Nonetheless, I enjoyed dipping into that lifestyle via Lee's memoir, just as I enjoy watching Lena Durham's Girls. And I enjoyed dipping into the Melbourne art scene as a Sydneysider as well. An enjoyable memoir, and hopefully Lee will write some fiction in the future as well. She's very readable.

*This review is part of the Australian Womens Writers Challenge 2014


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