Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Petite allure

Petite Anglaise, by Catherine Sanderson, is available in stores today.

I've been reading Petite's blog for years (even commenting a couple times regarding the oddities of raising a bilingual child) — I'm familiar with the meat of the story that comprises this book, and I'm thrilled to have a review copy. (In Canada it's the US edition you'll find.)

I've always felt an affinity for Petite, seeing a number of parallels in our lives: shacking up with some French guy, adopting a "foreign" city in which to make one's home, feeling a bit trapped by motherhood, in many ways parenting singly and knowing the irony of living in a chosen place but deprived of the ability to experience it fully. And of course, blogging.

This book is not a printout of her posts. While still charming and frank, it lacks the breeze — the apparent spontaneity — of the blog. But in recompense, we're treated to behind-the-scenes glimpses of how those anecdotes are inspired and then crafted into a blog.

We learn how unspontaneous much of the writing is. Most interesting to me is the exploration of the online blog persona — an almost fictional character, scripted and edited to perfection, or, at least, to purpose. Doesn't every blogger consider the problem of persona at some time?: How genuine is a post and its writer when they clamor for effect, playing to their audience? Writers write themselves: more confident or more sympathetic or wiser or more curmudgeonly often than real life allows. Chosen facets played up, improved, and others ignored. It may be honest, even brutally so, but selective.

I'd venture to say that Petite, as alterego, is a better writer than Catherine, but this memoir still provides a vital counterpoint to her blog.

"Mummy's got a bad, bad headache," I mumble feebly, turning onto my side and burying my feverish face into the cool pillow instead.

But there is no pain, at least not in a physical sense. I am, quite simply, stricken with horror; aghast at the thought of the upheaval I am poised to inflict on our little family. Terrified that what I am contemplating can somehow be read in my face: a scarlet letter freshly branded on my forehead.

And yet, at the same time, every cell in my body vibrates at a higher frequency. I feel the blood thundering through my veins; the hair on my arms standing on end. My fear — fear of hurling myself headlong into the unknown — is shot through with giddy exhilaration. Never have I felt so guilty, nor so intoxicatingly alive.


Fuller excerpt here.

Petite Anglaise is an engrossing, quick read, and a sharp reminder that some things, on blogs as in life, can't be unwritten.

1 comment:

christinemm said...

I'm possibly too honest and open at times on my blog. Then again it is true that my blog shows just a slice of my life, what I choose to share. Personal friends who I'm close to often say they are surprised I didn't discuss A, B, and C on my blog as it was a big thing happening in my life last week or whatever.

For me sometimes things that I need to talk about with them or vent about or am upset about or that take up my emotional energy never make it to my blog. It can be too hard, too raw sometimes to write and blog stuff like that. So my blog readers may think perhaps I analyze and blog about X topic but really they have no clue that I am not obsessing on X topic but it is 'safe' to blog about while I'm dealing with heavier stuff (Y).

A couple of weeks ago I found out my grandmother was dying and her decline was swift. After spending about 12 hours sitting vigil with her (sans computer), I drove home, crying while driving sometimes. I stopped the car in my driveway and
pulled out pen and paper, needing to write and vent. I wrote a poem (not something I do often). It was raw and emotional. I thought that I could blog that and my readers would 'get' what I was going through. At about one a.m. I got a call that she had passed away. The whole thing was so sudden that I have not looked at that poem again let alone blogged it. To be more complete in the telling of that episode in my life the poem really should be on the blog. But I just don't feel like revisiting it.

There are also a lot of examples from real life and stories I could tell to illustrate general principles and opinions I have and why. However I can't tell all on the blog lest I alienate friends and family.

A friend told me something little recently. It was 'no big deal' and not even a topic I planned on blogging on. Yet she phoned me in a panic the next day begging me to not blog the example from her relative.

I think a couple of my friends are censoring themselves from me for fear of me revealing stuff on my blog.

Others have joked "you won't blog this, will you?" but I know there is some seriousness behind it.

Another thought on blogging sometimes I'm all revved up on a topic and write a long blog post draft. Yet I don't take the energy later to edit it and polish it into something publish-able. In that way probably some poignant writings never see the light of day. Oh well.

Oh, and I read that a woman was being brought to court by her insurance company regarding the fact that she had not blogged a serious illness of her child yet was claiming he was impaired. I also don't talk about the various health issues we go through here (just some of them) partially for that reason. The argument in court was if the kid was really sick for a long time it would have made it to the mother's blog.

Anyhow, what we reveal on our blogs is an interesting topic.

P.S. This is my first visit here and I navigated through from Mental Multivitamin.