Monday, 21 May 2012

Girl in Need of a Tourniquet by Merri Lisa Johnson

At first, I hated the first half of this book. If I had a nickel for everytime I rolled my eyes, I would have been able to pay for the book. Normally I am a fan of poetic-like prose, but not when it interferes with the story. I often say that the true meaning of a poem is only known by it's author and the same applies to parts of this memoir. Sometimes the metaphor and symbolism of what Johnson was trying to say is known only to her.

In the second half of the book, her metaphors and symbolism are more coherent and understandable. Sometimes I was even impressed with the beauty of her prose. In the latter half, she seems to care more about the story and less about writing fancy.

Overall, it just came off as melodramatic. However, it is the nature of borderlines to be melodramatic so this makes sense. I liked the parts where she wrote about her diagnosis and family life. Unfortunately, this was only in the last third of the book.

I got tired of reading about her on again off again lesbian affair. If she got this undone by a breakup I thank God she never went through anything truly traumatic such as the death of a loved one or being diagnosed with a terminal disease. I don't deny that she suffered (the nature of borderline personality disorder is to suffer over suffering) but as someone who had my parents and my husband die all die within 3 years and have since been the single parent of four children, I just want to scream "Get over yourself already!" I want to say "Write when you've actually gone through something that nearly every person on the planet hasn't gone through. Everyone gets dumped!" I just don't understand why the story focused on her relationship so much.

I wish the book was less about her on again off again relationship and more about her life growing up and about her actual recovery. I felt as if her recovery from borderline personality disorder was just implied. Johnson never explains how she recovered. Did she recieve dialectical behavior therapy? Was she hospitalized? How long did it take? None of these questions are answered. I was really frustrated when Johnson started diagnosing her sisters with borderline personality disorder rather than writing about her own recovery.

There was nothing consistent about the book (like a true borderline). Sometimes I wanted to roll my eyes at the ridiculous melodramatic prose but at other timess she did the impossible and described her emotional suffering in a way that I could understand.

I liked the quotes from other books and articles. Johnson gives us a bibliography of these so you can read the books and articles in their entirety.

In the end, there was too much of some things (the on again off again relationship) and not enough about borderline personality disorder, which was why I wanted to read the book in the first place. The ending was rushed and I was left finding it hard to believe Merri Lisa Johnson recovered at all.

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My Story by Marilyn Monroe

I loved this memoir. I say memoir not autobiography because it is not an autobiography. An autobiography begins at birth and covers one's entire life. A memoir covers only a part of one's life.

It is my understanding that this book wasn't published for more than a decade after being written. Also that it was ghostwritten by Ben Hecht. While there is no way of knowing how much of this book is true, I certainly hope it is. The woman in this story is a strong, intelligent, persevering woman who had a hard childhood and managed to overcome so much.

While she ended up being the most famous actress of all time, it wasn't handed to her. She had to work very hard for her fame. Unfortunately her fame is as a sexy, blond bimbo bombshell but the woman in this book seems very different. In fact, you get the idea that Norma Jean was actually frustrated that she was treated like a sex object and not a whole person. She clearly longed to be taken seriously as an actress. And despite being one of the most glamourous actresses in Hollywood, she was quite poor and owned only a few dresses. Sometimes she wanted a job just so she would have money to buy food!

The memoir ends just as she reaches the fame she longs for. There are hints at her emotional and mental issues. She admits to being molested and feeling abandoned by her mother. All the hints of borderline personality (and dare I say narcissism) are there, but just how they impacted the actress is hard to say. At least from her point of view. All other books about her are not her own words. Nothing is as good as her own point of view.

While this book does satisfy answers about who Norma Jean was before she was Marilyn Monroe, in the end it leaves you with more questions than answers. However, the fact that it leaves you wanting more means it's pretty darn good.

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