Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang

Reviewed by Ingrid

Published: 2010

It's about: Roman is a student of poetry at a renowned school of creative writing. He and his friend Bernard both admire the notoriously tough but extremely respected Miranda Sturgis, who teaches poetry at the School and is a well published poet herself. Roman has an affair with her the lasts few months that he attends the School. He goes on to publish an award winning collection of poetry, while Bernard works on a single poem his whole life. We follow the two poets throughout their careers, as "secrets of the past begin to surface, friendships are broken, and Miranda continues to cast a shadow over their lives."

I thought: Lan Samantha Chang is the director of the extremely prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, which in itself is reason enough to read All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost. This was a very pleasant, short little book that was easy to read though tackled some seriously heavy themes, which I imagine is very difficult to pull off. Really, the writing is so straightforward that it almost reads like a YA novel, yet at the same time it is tight and lyrical. It is clear that Chang is remarkably skilled. Her characterization of the poets and description of the writing process is deeply emotional and wonderfully resonant.

Verdict: Stick this one on the shelf.

Reading Recommendations: I would recommend this to anyone, but especially to those who have a background in or are interested in creative writing.

Warnings: Some sex, though nothing graphic.

Favorite excerpts:
"Listening to their remarks, refusing to contribute, unwilling even to look at anyone, was curiously pleasurable. Roman had never before known so viscerally the power and comfort of a secret. None of them had seen the square of moonlight on her bedfroom floor. None of them knew that she loved cheap milk chocolate, or that she wore high heels because she thought she was too short."

"They sat in a comfortable, roomy, dark old booth, its table scarred with ancient social history."