Read: The Return

The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar

The author didn’t quite address how he felt – When the revolution was happening, when Qaddafi/Gaddafi was captured, tortured. There’s almost nothing on that, so in case you were hoping for a wee bit on that, don’t.

The book is literally what it presents itself to be – The author’s search and yearning for his father, who was betrayed by the Egyptian SS, imprisoned by the dictator, and of course, disappeared by the regime.

*spoiler alert*

The body of the author’s father was never found. He never met anyone specifically who could give him a straight answer, or closure, on what happened to his late father.

There were dry facts in between the pages, which is beyond necessary for those who are not familiar with the regime’s history.

There’s also no talk of the country post-Qaddafi. Like I said, it’s about him, his father, and the regime in between – and Egypt is part of the narrative as well.

If you are looking for a dose on the revolution and other issues which were not addressed in The Return, I think you should consider “Sandstorm”, written by Lindsey Hilsum. I’m currently reading that book, so hopefully I’ll get to learn more about Libya then.

Read: Ten Days in a Madhouse

Ten Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly

While reading this – I kept thinking – Wow. These evil nurses and doctors are worse than Guantanamo, Nazis and Mengele, Russian gulags, Iran-Iraq, DPRK and Chinese prison camps combined.

Why so, if you may ask? But before I go there… First, this was published in 1886. Also, you should read about Nellie Bly – She pioneered what we call today, “investigative journalism”. And her time is before Martha Gellhorn, before John Hersey.

So – why are these people more evil than the ones who came after them? Because… they were supposed to be caring for the mentally ill? Well. What do I know.

That’s all there is to it.

Read: Small Fry

This just in.

*spoiler alert* Though, I don’t write ‘review-reviews’. I write what I feel. Felt. Am feeling.

I cried toward the final 20% of the book.

Also, I have been sitting on Walter Isaacson’s bio on Steve Jobs since it was published. Now I know why.

It was meant to be sat on.

I’m not an Apple fan. I may have had a MacBook Air, have a MacBook Pro, used an iPhone 4, 5, owned two iPads and own two iPads, plus other Apple stuff; but I’m not a fan. I just buy things that appealed to me, randomly. I don’t idolize Steve Jobs (never cared about Apple launches). Brilliant, but I’d pick Anderson Cooper over him any second. And yeah as if I’d even ever get to do that.

I cried because of Kevin and Dorothy’s kindness. There’s a quote somewhere by someone random who said something along the lines of,

Lisa may one day realize she can never replace her parents, and Kevin and Dorothy can never buy a daughter.

What a stupid thing to say. Really. But you’ve been mentioned in her book so, congratulations, I guess?

The part where Steve’s bio on some corporate website mentioned he has three instead of four children.

The parts where her father keeps saying, or hints, “You need to be part of the family, Lis,” – I’m sorry, but isn’t that some form of gaslighting? The author’s so kind with her words. Probably doesn’t wanna upset her siblings, especially the youngest one, named Eve, because Eve said, out loud, “She was daddy’s mistake,” – Kids, they always say the darnest things and get away with it, though I hope, not for life. Eve, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ve since grown to realize that you could process thoughts before you speak.

It’s easy to read this bio without the late Steve Jobs hovering around the pages because I’ve never read much nor finished watching videos with Steve Jobs in it. I believe it has a lot to with my disliking of what’s ‘trending‘. I was working closely with consumer technology for over a decade and yet I couldn’t be bothered.

So, once again? Now I know why. Strange, but it’s so that I could dive in clean into this memoir of a wounded soul. I visualized her father as her father, first. Mostly, even. The way she wrote this memoir, it wasn’t about her father, who happens to be Steve Jobs.

It was about a child’s relationship with her father.

Did I know Steve Jobs was cruel towards his “mistake of an unwed family he didn’t want”? Not until I read this book.

Did I know he was stingy? Well, not really.

All I knew was that he was a genius with a temper, and had a kid he originally refused to acknowledge (paternity). That, was all.

So, for me, it’s as though all these years dealing with consumer tech and the media, I was miraculously saved from all these insignificant details, until Small Fry was written and published.

I’m glad, I’m really glad, that I had sat on Jobs, the biography.

I don’t know what kind of surprises will be waiting for me, but I hope it would address Steve’s parents (not much of the birth ones), their relationship, and how he came to be one of, well, the cold people his wife Laurene openly declared during a session with the author’s therapist (“We’re just cold people”, said Laurene. The author was also present during the session). I am also curious about Laurene. She’s gotta be his twin, otherwise, there’s no way their relationship had continued to work.

Despite all the negativity, I do agree with the author’s father on this, which is possibly (should damn be) the greatest quote by him, ever –

Passage taken from the book, chapter ‘Runaway’:

My father gave a speech in which he said that it wasn’t love that brought people together and kept them together, but values – shared values.

How’s Laurene not his twin, I will never be able to comprehend.

I’m drained from this read, in a good way, I suppose. I can never begin to imagine the sorrow she’s been carrying since she was a tiny, curious, hungry for acceptance, child. Ms. Brennan-Jobs, you will pay it forward. Thank you for sharing your story.

Read: I, Who Did Not Die

I, Who Did Not Die by Zahed Haftlang and Najah Aboud with Meredith May

First book completed this year. I started in December 2018.

This book, is heavy. I came crashing into this book after decades of media absence from the Iran-Iraq war.

By ‘media absence’, I mean I haven’t read anything in-depth on the said war since the late 90s. As a teen, I read a lot of newspapers and news magazines, and I’ve read about the tortures and all the inhumane stories from this very war. But to relive it, with even gorier details (how they hang you), once again drags you back to hopelessness. The world, as we all should realize, by now, a year shy from turning 2020, is hopeless. There’s little hope left in humanity. Torture is still going on. So are wars. What’s new?

For Zahed and Najah to have survived the war and torture let alone found each other – proof that there’s still hope.

Thank you, Meredith May – for bringing this story to life, for writing this legacy. How is this not a bestseller, I have no idea. Probably the cover. This has got to do better than Educated by Tara Westover or that Crawdad book.

Read: Stray – Memoir of a Runaway

Stray: Memoir of a Runaway by Tanya Marquardt

First world country (Canada), near first world setting. Dysfunctional family, depressed and angry teenager. Pretty much a backdrop of a B-grade Hollywood movie set in the 80s. I enjoyed this read, but I don’t have anything much to say about it.

Read: Prozac Diary

Prozac Diary by Lauren Slater

You know, I read Prozac Nation in the early 2000s, and now this, this year, but still I can’t quite find anything to say about either of them. If you know me, as in know me, you’d know why.

Great read, highly recommended. Of course.

Read: Never Stop Walking

Never Stop Walking by Christina Rickardsson

I loved this book. There were many pages where I cried. Her mother’s perseverance, their life in the woods, on the streets. How she was put into an orphanage by her mother and how her mother was deceived. The whole nine yards – I’m not going to write them all. That’s the problem with trying to write a post months after reading the book… You just don’t have anything smart, useful, or insightful to say.

Read it. Appreciate your family, appreciate what you have. Appreciate who you are. Do whatever you want. Just don’t do evil.

Happy New Year.