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Intimate: An American Family Photo Album

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INTIMATE brilliantly redefines "memoir" by assembling its narratives from divergent sources: the mixed-race marriage of Paisley Rekdal's parents, the life of photographer Edward S. Curtis (chronicler and myth-maker of the Old West), and the almost unknown story of Alexander Upshaw, Curtis's Native American guide and interpreter. Typographically adventurous, Rekdal uses a c INTIMATE brilliantly redefines "memoir" by assembling its narratives from divergent sources: the mixed-race marriage of Paisley Rekdal's parents, the life of photographer Edward S. Curtis (chronicler and myth-maker of the Old West), and the almost unknown story of Alexander Upshaw, Curtis's Native American guide and interpreter. Typographically adventurous, Rekdal uses a combination of prose, poetry, and photographs to create a panoramic yet intimate encounter with American history, and a new way of thinking about the riddle of identity.


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INTIMATE brilliantly redefines "memoir" by assembling its narratives from divergent sources: the mixed-race marriage of Paisley Rekdal's parents, the life of photographer Edward S. Curtis (chronicler and myth-maker of the Old West), and the almost unknown story of Alexander Upshaw, Curtis's Native American guide and interpreter. Typographically adventurous, Rekdal uses a c INTIMATE brilliantly redefines "memoir" by assembling its narratives from divergent sources: the mixed-race marriage of Paisley Rekdal's parents, the life of photographer Edward S. Curtis (chronicler and myth-maker of the Old West), and the almost unknown story of Alexander Upshaw, Curtis's Native American guide and interpreter. Typographically adventurous, Rekdal uses a combination of prose, poetry, and photographs to create a panoramic yet intimate encounter with American history, and a new way of thinking about the riddle of identity.

30 review for Intimate: An American Family Photo Album

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dao Strom

    I read this book in one day, captivated by its form, its daring, its reaching, its beautiful writing and images... The author uses the photos of Edward S. Curtis, and imagines the biography of Curtis's Native guide Upshaw, while interweaving glimpses into her own mixed-race background - a Norwegian-American father, a Chinese-American mother. There are motifs of boundaries blurred and crossed, the personages in this "story" all caught in undefined spaces where two worlds (brown and white, we migh I read this book in one day, captivated by its form, its daring, its reaching, its beautiful writing and images... The author uses the photos of Edward S. Curtis, and imagines the biography of Curtis's Native guide Upshaw, while interweaving glimpses into her own mixed-race background - a Norwegian-American father, a Chinese-American mother. There are motifs of boundaries blurred and crossed, the personages in this "story" all caught in undefined spaces where two worlds (brown and white, we might state it as) meet, and there are motifs of death - the dying culture Curtis is attempting to preserve, even controversially, the mother in the hospital with cancer, father and daughter at her bedside... Lovely, subtle, intricate entwining of themes and threads across time and cultures. This book is the type of memoir I wish I could construct for my own similarly confluent Viet-Danish-American family background, one that obliquely, complexly, yet so aptly captures the confluence and ambiguity of what "identity" and representation mean in a mixed-America. The photos by Curtis the author appears to have mixed feelings about - keenly criticizing the photographer for certain controversies about his work, his intent, and yet admitting how seductive the photos are. Over a hundred years later we are still looking at those photographs, talking about the photographer's work, even though we know them to be perhaps not "authentic" documents of their time, and even though by the end of his days his ambitious project was considered (by many) to have "failed." This book presents Curtis, largely through the eyes of his guide Upshaw, but it also through this narrative veil subversively presents the author's own mixed-race self as a question - a "picture" of sorts - of what it entails to make the passage between two realms. A really refreshing re-configuring of literary expectations for narrative and multicultural memoir.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ken Titt

    Although what Paisley Rekdal has written here is brilliant, it's what she hasn't written in this book that is truly amazing. Her words take you to the edge of what she sees, then her poignant allusions paint the picture as if captured by Curtis himself. Although what Paisley Rekdal has written here is brilliant, it's what she hasn't written in this book that is truly amazing. Her words take you to the edge of what she sees, then her poignant allusions paint the picture as if captured by Curtis himself.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    oh god, this book is amazing! creative nonfiction fans rejoice! one of the best reads of 2012

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    818.54 R381i 2011

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shin Yu

    I found Rekdal's first book "The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee" a more successful memoir then this collection which weaves together multiple story lines in a hybrid project that encompasses archival fotos, poems, and short prose vignettes. I was not able to focus on any aspect of the multiple narratives at work and felt that the collage approach worked against her in this collection. The book is loosely connected by a collection of Edward Curtis images and a book that her father has been reading I found Rekdal's first book "The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee" a more successful memoir then this collection which weaves together multiple story lines in a hybrid project that encompasses archival fotos, poems, and short prose vignettes. I was not able to focus on any aspect of the multiple narratives at work and felt that the collage approach worked against her in this collection. The book is loosely connected by a collection of Edward Curtis images and a book that her father has been reading which is also part of the author's own research.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    This book is fabulous! I've never read anything like it. Rekdal is actually a professor at my school. Just sayin. This book is fabulous! I've never read anything like it. Rekdal is actually a professor at my school. Just sayin.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Donald Quist

    Stunning.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Theresia

    Weird, in a good way. I like this weird. This weird can stay.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Fragmented in the most lyrical, perfect way. Currently writing a book review on this for NewPages.com

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heather Rounds

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sonia Rodriguez

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Klotz

  14. 4 out of 5

    Agnes Marton

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bonita

  18. 5 out of 5

    Evie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Loni

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Cole

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anita

  22. 5 out of 5

    Larisa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susanna

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beckywthomas

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linnea Alexander

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth Ellington

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cara

  29. 5 out of 5

    K. M. Lighthouse

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

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