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I Love a Broad Margin to My Life

by

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"This book, her last, she hints, is a journey though the writings, the past and present lives, the very heart and soul of National Book Award-winner Maxine Hong Kingston, author of the acclaimed Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. She gives us this precious gift: a memoir as poem and poem as memoir, freestyle verse telling the freestyle lives of woman/writer/warrior Maxine Ting Ting Hong, married to Earll Kingston 'for three lifetimes, counting this one,' still trying to '[g]et love right. Get marriage right.' Her grown son Joseph reads all her work and asks, 'Don't write about me.' She writes, 'Okay I won't do it anymore' and later tells how when he was young she once gave him an entire bag of marshmallows so she could have 20 minutes to write." Helen Zia, Ms. Magazine (Read the entire Ms. review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In her singular voice—humble, elegiac, practical—Maxine Hong Kingston sets out to reflect on aging as she turns sixty-five.

Kingstons swift, effortlessly flowing verse lines feel instantly natural in this fresh approach to the art of memoir, as she circles from present to past and back, from lunch with a writer friend to the funeral of a Vietnam veteran, from her long marriage (“cant divorce until we get it right. / Love, that is. Get love right”) to her arrest at a peace march in Washington, where she and her "sisters" protested the Iraq war in the George W. Bush years. Kingston embraces Thoreaus notion of a “broad margin,” hoping to expand her vista: “Im standing on top of a hill; / I can see everywhichway— / the long way that I came, and the few / places I have yet to go. Treat / my whole life as if it were a day.”

On her journeys as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston revisits her most beloved characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China, where he has never been—a trip that becomes a beautiful meditation on the country then and now, on a culture where rice farmers still work in the age-old way, even as a new era is dawning. “All over China,” she writes, “and places where Chinese are, populations / are on the move, going home. That home / where Mother and Father are buried. Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.”

Such is the spirit of this wonderful book—a sense of doors opening wide onto an American life of great purpose and joy, and the tonic wisdom of a writer we have come to cherish.

Review:

"Told in free verse reminiscent of one of Kingston's idols, Walt Whitman, this uncommon memoir of the artist at 65 is informed by the wide margins on the pages of the Chinese editions of her works (margins her father used to write in). Kingston revisits characters, like Wittman Ah Sing, the monkey from her first novel, and themes from her books: her pacifist, feminist activism; the challenge of stereotypes; East and West. Though this homage to aging, with wisdom gained through a freewheeling reflection on family, the past, fate (karma, we're reminded, means 'work,' not 'doom'), and self-reliance (which is a translation of Kingston's Chinese name, Ting Ting), often rambles, it also has the cohesion and intricate logic of a musical composition. The artist is a mental traveler, presenting her life as a dreamlike journey that culminates in a listing of 'my dead,' some 50 names, which both pulls Kingston toward oblivion ('Each one who dies, I want to go with you') and inspires seven reasons to live. The desire to create recedes ('I regret always writing, writing') as the memoirist sees herself becoming 'reader of the world,' a 'surprise world' that frees her from the need to create it with words. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

US

Synopsis:

In her singular voice—humble, elegiac, practical—Maxine Hong Kingston sets out to reflect on aging as she turns sixty-five.

In swift verse lines that become, in her hands, another way of writing memoir, Kingston embraces Thoreau’s notion of a “broad margin,” hoping to expand her vista: “I’m standing on top of a hill / I can see everywhichway— / the long way that I came, and the few places / I have yet to go. Treat / my whole life as if it were a day.” As she flies between her activities as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston also revisits her characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China. Ultimately, traveling without allies, she arrives at places where “Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.”

Such is the spirit of this wonderful book—doors opening wide onto an American life of great purpose and joy, and the tonic wisdom of a writer we have come to cherish.

About the Author

Maxine Hong Kingston is the author of The Woman Warrior, China Men, Tripmaster Monkey, and The Fifth Book of Peace, among other works. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal, and the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. For many years a Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing at UC Berkeley, she lives in California.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307270191
Author:
Kingston, Maxine Hong
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
General
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Chinese American women
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20110131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.89 x .96 in .8375 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life Used Hardcover
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Product details 240 pages Knopf - English 9780307270191 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Told in free verse reminiscent of one of Kingston's idols, Walt Whitman, this uncommon memoir of the artist at 65 is informed by the wide margins on the pages of the Chinese editions of her works (margins her father used to write in). Kingston revisits characters, like Wittman Ah Sing, the monkey from her first novel, and themes from her books: her pacifist, feminist activism; the challenge of stereotypes; East and West. Though this homage to aging, with wisdom gained through a freewheeling reflection on family, the past, fate (karma, we're reminded, means 'work,' not 'doom'), and self-reliance (which is a translation of Kingston's Chinese name, Ting Ting), often rambles, it also has the cohesion and intricate logic of a musical composition. The artist is a mental traveler, presenting her life as a dreamlike journey that culminates in a listing of 'my dead,' some 50 names, which both pulls Kingston toward oblivion ('Each one who dies, I want to go with you') and inspires seven reasons to live. The desire to create recedes ('I regret always writing, writing') as the memoirist sees herself becoming 'reader of the world,' a 'surprise world' that frees her from the need to create it with words. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "This book, her last, she hints, is a journey though the writings, the past and present lives, the very heart and soul of National Book Award-winner Maxine Hong Kingston, author of the acclaimed Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. She gives us this precious gift: a memoir as poem and poem as memoir, freestyle verse telling the freestyle lives of woman/writer/warrior Maxine Ting Ting Hong, married to Earll Kingston 'for three lifetimes, counting this one,' still trying to '[g]et love right. Get marriage right.' Her grown son Joseph reads all her work and asks, 'Don't write about me.' She writes, 'Okay I won't do it anymore' and later tells how when he was young she once gave him an entire bag of marshmallows so she could have 20 minutes to write." (Read the entire Ms. review)
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , In her singular voice—humble, elegiac, practical—Maxine Hong Kingston sets out to reflect on aging as she turns sixty-five.

In swift verse lines that become, in her hands, another way of writing memoir, Kingston embraces Thoreau’s notion of a “broad margin,” hoping to expand her vista: “I’m standing on top of a hill / I can see everywhichway— / the long way that I came, and the few places / I have yet to go. Treat / my whole life as if it were a day.” As she flies between her activities as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston also revisits her characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China. Ultimately, traveling without allies, she arrives at places where “Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.”

Such is the spirit of this wonderful book—doors opening wide onto an American life of great purpose and joy, and the tonic wisdom of a writer we have come to cherish.

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