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How to Realistically Start Writing Your Autobiography When It Seems Too Hard

Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 18, Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing Shelves: autobiographies , memoir , nostalgia , history , fiction , united-states , ohio.

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An honest portrayal of the rapidly advancing 20th century in the United States from the perspective of a girl who lived it, My Home is Far Away is a story that anyone could relate to, because it's not just historical, it's also about growing up and family. Sep 30, Sylvester rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , , quirky-families , memoir-biography. Which leaves me wondering just how much is true. And those unanswered questions are part of Powell's strength.

She uses it well. The ending is probably one of the finest examples of leaving the reader hanging but still satisfied that I've ever come across. It's very life-like in that respect. I mean, we live in a perpetual state of unresolved feelings, actions, plans, etc, don't we? We know, because we're reading the book, that things must "An Autobiographical Novel" So it's not strictly fact.

We know, because we're reading the book, that things must come out somewhat well for Marcia Dawn. We know that she wrote a whole lot of highly-praised books.

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So she made something out of herself in spite of everything. But that's the only clue we have. And Dawn is a skilled writer.


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I may not read any of her other books, but I will never forget this one. It's not a "happy" story", although not as brutal, in many ways it makes me think of "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls. It shows the depth of a child's helplessness within her family unit in a way that can cause an almost physical sensation of pain. At the same time, the characters are so sympathetically and humorously depicted as to allow for both anger and compassion on the part of the reader.

Human beings are complicated, life is difficult, people are interesting and inventive and flawed and full of strangely endearing quirks. This is a book with punch. I loved it. View all 4 comments. May 28, Ann Otto rated it really liked it. Originally published in , Dawn Powell's autobiographical novel introduces us to a large dysfunctional family reminiscent of books by Thomas Woolf, or more recently Jeanette Walls.

We are continually frustrated when various members enable others. In this case, the middle child, Marcia, tries to understand life amidst the early death of her mother, a mostly absent ne'er-do-well father, a variety of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and a stepmother whose behavior resembles Cinderella's.

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As always, Originally published in , Dawn Powell's autobiographical novel introduces us to a large dysfunctional family reminiscent of books by Thomas Woolf, or more recently Jeanette Walls. As always, Powell, described as Hemingway's favorite author of the 's, provides excellent and unique character descriptions. Jun 15, Katherine rated it really liked it. I generally don't like stories about small towns in the Midwest, but this novel is so much more. It has one of the best and most complex evil stepmother characters I've ever read, and because of that the stepmother is even more malevolent.

The father is pretty much incompetent. Marcia, the protagonist, is always getting in trouble for being smart -- she must have cheated because she can't possibly be that smart. And yet it doesn't wallow in her misfortune or slather it on too thickly; the read I generally don't like stories about small towns in the Midwest, but this novel is so much more. And yet it doesn't wallow in her misfortune or slather it on too thickly; the reader always believes that Marcia may well make it.

Another impressive feature of this novel is that Powell does a great job of capturing the child's point of view. For most writers, this would probably be their crowning achievement, but Powell also wrote fantastic satire that is even better. Jul 22, Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing.

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They tend to be sharp satires. Her earlier Ohio novels, such as "Dance Night" and "Come Back to Sorrento", are marked, I think, by a depiction of small town life which is critic Coming Of Age In Rural Ohio Dawn Powell wrote novels about her youth in small town Ohio at the turn of the century and about New York City, where she spent most of her adult life.

staging.burrells.co.uk/guhiv-locate-my-cell.php Her earlier Ohio novels, such as "Dance Night" and "Come Back to Sorrento", are marked, I think, by a depiction of small town life which is critical and bittersweet, as well as somewhat satirical, and by a restlessness and sense of frustration, Powell worked for three years on "My Home is Far Away" which was published in She had difficulty with the book, writing and rewriting the various scenes as she tried to fictionalize her biography and turn it into a novel.

The book appears in the midst of her New York novels, and it is a throwback in to her earlier books with its setting in Ohio, its focus on childhood, and its bittersweet tone. Powell intended this novel as the first of a three-part trilogy, but the other two volumes never materialized. Most of Powell's novels seem to me distinctly autobiographical in tone and "My Home is Far away" is particularly so. It tells the story of a family, focusing on three young sisters, Lena, Marcia, and Florrie, their father Harry, their mother Daisy, and, after Daisy's death, their stepmother Idah.

There are basically three parts to the story: the period leading to the death of Daisy, and intervening period in which the three girls are raised by their father and assorted other relatives, and a the period after their father remarries and the girls are subjected to a cruel stepmother. When they find they can no longer take the abuse, they leave home and come into their own lives. The title of the novel, "My Home is Far Away" derives from an Irish song that the girls sing with their mother. The title well captures some of the rootlessness of the family as they move from here to there.

It also evokes well the longing for a home life and for a stability which the family, and Dawn Powell, never had. One of the problems with this book is differentiating the characters of three young girls. On the whole, this is handled effectively.


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  5. The Dawn Powell character is the middle sister, Marcia, who is plain but highly precocious. The older girl, Lena, is much more sociable and outgoing. The family moved a great deal from one small Ohio town to another and to different places within various towns. The most effective scenes in the book for me were the pictures of many dingy, run-down hotels and small town back streets during which the girls spent much of their childhood.

    The father, Harry, was a traveling salesman who, for most of the book, has difficulty holding a job and spending time with his family. He professes to love his family, but doesn't provide well. He spends his time and money hanging around with his friends and, apparently, with women in various towns. One key moment in the book occurs rather early in it when the girls' mother dies. This scene is beautifully told. Then we see Harry trying to shunt the girls off to various relatives until he finally attempts to care for them himself.

    The marriage to Idah brings Harry some stability, but at a terrible cost. Idah is a shrewish, jealous stepmother. The two older girls both leave home to get away from her. This book has some slow moments, but it is a wonderful coming-of-age novel and gives a good picture of the rural Midwest. It is good that Dawn Powell's novels are in print and readily accessible. It is intriguing to think how she might have proceeded in the remaining two projected volumes of her autobiographical trilogy. Robin Friedman Sep 22, Alison rated it really liked it. Not your typical coming-of-age story.

    There are plenty of writers who show the suffering of children at the hands of adults, and some who can make poetry of neglect and abuse Dorothy Allison.