I Came All This Way to Meet You by Jami Attenberg [8/10]

For writers, wannabe writers, creatives, and anyone striving for meaning, “I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home” is an oblique yet frank unwinding of the writing life of an author who took years to claw herself into a respected body of work. As Jami Attenberg describes it, she was largely ignored until succeeding with an unlike smash hit, The Middlesteins, in 2012. This memoir, structured as a gradually advancing set of progress essays, describes a life of constant moving, constant near poverty, and constant writing, always writing. Very much in the school of “I write because I am driven to do it,” the memoir encapsulates a cavalcade of hardship, tribulation, and loneliness, much of it self imposed by a contrary free soul. The skeleton narrative is subtle and there is little direct information about her novels, but the storyline, of “writing myself home,” as she puts it, is powerful indeed, and at the end of I Came All This Way to Meet You, a palpable spirit of achievement and release emerges. My read took a fortnight and I dwelt on many sections, basking in the inner thoughts and emotions of an artist braver and stronger than me. If you need a creative boost, this could be a 2022 highlight.

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