I am I am I am by Maggie O’Farrell.
Second holiday read and one of the best books I read this year. Original, beautifully written, moving, scary, terrifying, profound, clever, heartbreaking… I could go on and on… just read it will you?
I’m not big into autobiography… but this book is a memoir with a difference. O’Farrell recounts her life through 17 near death experiences. Don’t think it’s trivial, or funny… because it is one of the most insightful piece of writing I’ve read in a long time. It is a love letter to life, to make every day, every occasion count, every minute, every second because everything is important. It’s not told in chronological order, but that adds to the interest, it’s easy to follow… some chapter are short, some are long, some tie up with the previous ones or another one that will follow.
So many of her observations hit home, but no more that when she talks about her restleness and desire, no, need to travel… she writes that after the first school trip (to Rome, in her case):
For me it was going to stay with our German friends when I was nine. For a month. They didn’t speak Italian, (only the father, but he was at work all day), and I didn’t speak German… but I had the best time… at an unconscious level I think I knew ‘this was it’… the best way to be, always learning, always faced with new things to interpret and disintangle, and appreciate. I even went to school for a couple of weeks… maths and art I could do!!… I also ate my weight in chocolate which ran freely in their house, so that might have had something to do with it!
After that I took any opportunity that came along!
“I have this compulsion for freedom,for a state of liberation. It is an urge so strong, so all-encompassing that it overwhelms everything else. I cannot stand my life as it is. I cannot stand to be here, in this town, in this school. I have to get away.I have to work and work so that I can leave and only then can I create a life that will be liveable for me.”
And that was exactly how I felt when at 19yrs old I left my country… I needed to leave… hard to explain how or why… but in those five lines …. there’s my 17/18/19yr old me.
But seriously, this is a fabulous book.
Go forth and read it.
“We are, all of us, wandering about in a state of oblivion, borrowing our time, seizing our days, escaping our fates, slipping through loopholes, unaware of when the axe may fall.