Her entry begins:
What am I reading? I read books irregularly, generally after I’ve met a big deadline. Then I rush to the stack I’ve accumulated, and I read like crazy. When I’m working on a deadline, I hang out a lot inside JSTOR and other databases, reading research articles for days on end. Of books, I’m a slow reader because I ruminate. When I fall in love with a book, I’ll read it two or three times. I also try to read my friends’ books.Liza Bakewell is a writer and anthropologist, Director of The Mesolore Project at Brown University, and author of Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun, which was published in November with W.W. Norton.
This past summer, I read mostly memoirs, because I am about to embark on writing a book that involves memoir, although it will not itself be a memoir, I don’t think. Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (2004) and The Ticking is the Bomb (2010), is one of my favorite memoirists, at the moment. What I love most about his two memoirs are not the biographical stories they tell, which are heart wrenching and engaging, but his storytelling style (the timing of his flashbacks and flash-forwards, the literary and philosophical interludes, the poetry of his prose). I also love his focus on social justice, his concern for...[read on]
Among the early praise for Bakewell's Madre:
“‘Madre hay una sola,’ we often say in Spanish, and so it is. There’s only one Madre: this precise book, at the same time humorous and profound, researched to extremes in a most personal and even picaresque fashion. Liza Bakewell is a linguistic anthropologist with the soul of a novelist and a daring curiosity well beyond that of Bluebeard’s bride.”Learn more about the book and author at Liza Bakewell's website.
—Luisa Valenzuela, author of Black Novel With Argentines
“¡Padrísimo! No sooner does Liza Bakewell take the helm than it becomes obvious how much joy and enlightenment might come from the study of language. No one in the world puts the word “mother” to spin like Mexicans do, and the reasons why are not only philological but religious, political, and psychological.”
—Ilan Stavans, author of On Borrowed Words and Dictionary Days, and general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature
The Page 99 Test: Madre.
Writers Read: Liza Bakewell.