Elevate Difference

American Romances: Essays

In this bountiful blend of writing, Rebecca Brown discusses the interpretation of words in the past and present. She mixes classic pieces of writing with contemporary history and combines her own coming-of-age anecdotes with other writings. Her commentary is sometimes shocking, sometimes eloquent, and overall, leaves you to wonder what she is thinking. Why does she choose to develop these essays this way? By reading more, you realize her point: for her entire life, she has tried tirelessly to figure out what is it to be “American.”

Brown's voice strongly suggests a quirky, laugh-out-loud approach to life. At times, her stream of consciousness takes hold, but you want to jump right in with her. Pleasant and insightful, this collection of essays illuminates thoughts many of us had beginning in high school and in current revisiting of classics. Every step of the way, Brown provides more substance to the confusing idea of "American."

Weaving in her own self-discovery, Brown humorously reflects on her own past. As a reader, you end up chuckling too, feeling like you can identify with her situations. Her references demonstrate a thorough study of Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as Gertrude Stein; both subjects recur throughout the compilation of essays. Elements of familiarity twist to define romance and Americanism.

Children's books provide a foundation of knowledge for us as we move into more developed interactions with our society. Brown incorporates this into her continued memoirish essays revealing her ongoing pursuit of the “American romance.”

With each unique chapter footnoted (and holding her opinion alongside the factual footnote), American Romances remains a fabulous point of reference not only for Rebecca Brown, but for all of us running with the same questions about the world around us.

Written by: Carolyn Espe, September 28th 2009

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