I read a good book recently that I snagged off another writer’s “good books” list. White Teeth by Zadie Smith is the kind of book that makes me feel like a failure as a writer. Insightful, deep, epic…and written by a 24 year old Cambridge graduate. One of the main themes throughout was about how where you’re from impacts who you are now, about how roots and culture affect your actions and your future. It made me wonder if there are big chunks of me missing because I don’t have a culture, or a hometown, or a place to be “from.” I never felt like it was missing, but as I get older I wonder. Is there some essential part of my character that just never formed? I have made my own traditions, but they sprang from nowhere, or are borrowed from other people’s lives. I guess I can look at it as being more free, unfettered by the “ties that bind.” Or disjointed, and unsure.
Either way, the book’s worth a read. The writer’s humor is a blend of sarcasm and old-before-her time nostalgia. Her point about how we can map our own lives…no matter what…struck home.