畅销书 Becoming 与乡下人悲歌相差多远?

草草写了个两本书的比较(见下面英文),Michelle Obama的Becoming和J.D. Vance的乡下人悲歌 Hillbilly Elegy。Michelle这本书虽然事无巨细,却偏不分析她的完整家庭对她的正面影响,而一概纠结race and gender, 反而比她家更穷、母亲吸毒,不停换男友的J.D. Vance 诚恳地探索了乡下人文化和破碎家庭对几代人的不良影响。

两本书写于同一时期,Michelle Obama老是在反驳自己不是angry black woman, 本来我从未怎么注意她或她的观点,但整本书下来,还真给我这个印象了。她自己还反问,到底是哪一个词,angry or black or woman?现在好像都在比谁更需要pity party,在比惨的totem poll上一个个“鄙视链”。她说芝加哥,也承认她成长的年代没有那么危险,但不分析愈演愈烈的单亲家庭,福利制度等等弊端,只抨击gun laws and police brutality。我是期待她能研究些文化,家庭上的差异,在这点上很失望,太过政治了,虽然她不停地说对政治不感兴趣。

朋友说,“燕子,你分析精辟!Becoming 快成当今年轻时代(尤其女性)的红宝书了..... ” 可我作为女性,没觉得uplifting。

唯一觉得震撼的是她真是决绝啊,头天交往了一年多的男友还和她爸爸一起从芝加哥开长途送她去Princeton,男友还和她爸一个旅馆房间,第二天一早男友约她吃饭,她就breakup了,还后悔前晚没有break up是chickened out,给自己找借口说是因为没有遇到能让她放下一切的人。在普林斯顿交往两年的男友,因为人家毕业后暂时要做mascot,她立马分手,连她爸对她的恋爱方式都不置可否。这样的女性,作为有女孩子的父母,可以放心。有男孩的我觉得脖颈子发凉。


转一评论:“She has too much nagtive view point preventing her from seeing things positively.”


One dirt poor hillbilly with a broken home, a mom with drug addiction and so many men in her life (but caring grandparents) made it to Yale Law School, while the other with a Chicago lower middle class upbringing (but intact, caring parents and extended family members) made it to Harvard Law School. Yet the two memoirs are so vastly different. He is a white male who didn’t even know how to use a fork until attending Yale recruitment, while she claims she suffers invisibility as a black female. 

One constantly reflects on the destructive effect of a family culture that kept the youth down, yet the other relentlessly centers on marginalization of the Black race and female gender. 

While I appreciate the details of the memory growing up and being in the public eye, I felt a lacking of true reflection, at least on the part of the family structure because Michelle’s ubiquitous sense of seeking approval made her too conscious of the public, of sending a message, rather than being honest at contrasting her family with those who lack a father figure, or even contrasting an era when Chicago is less dangerous during her youth with the current environment. She blames all on gun control and marginalization. She acknowledged that it was indeed less dangerous during her days and that many families have moved away nowadays, yet stopped short of exploring the reasons other than the sound bites. 

The book is lengthy but worth the read, although repetitive in her sentiments. 

The Hillbilly Elegy however, is deep, brutally honest, and fast paced. It is best if you put the two side by side, since both were written roughly during the same period of time, by two lawyers. 


转朋友评论:“Identity politics 是双刃剑,能御敌更能伤友。One has every right to be proud of his/her identity, but politics should not be built upon it。


People will never stop thinking about themselves and their societies in identity terms. But people’s identities are neither fixed nor necessarily given by birth. Identity can be used to divide, but it can also be used to unify. That, in the end, will be the remedy for the populist politics of the present.  -- Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama”

杭州阿立 (2019-02-07 18:06:24)
Great write up!赞好书评!
李春燕 (2019-02-08 02:09:14)