Well I am giving this three stars for now, and I will think about whether I want to give it more. On GR three stars mean I liked it. Which I did. Oddly, I liked it slightly less than Reading Lolita even though one of my major complaints about the previous book was that it was curiously reticient and impersonal, and this one is anything but reticent and impersonal.
Nafisi, having decided to confront the problematic legacy of her parents, confronts it head on, even if that means being critical of people who she very clearly loved greatly despite their considerable flaws. I respect the unflinching honesty with which she does this. There are some very vivid episodes here. But in the end I'm not sure what it adds up to.
There is a thread in this memoir about a family tendency to see life through the lens of fiction - using poetry and storytelling and literature sometimes to make sense of their experiences and sometimes to hide from or even deny them. This interested me a lot. But as much as it interested me, it wasn't fully teased out into a consistent theme or brought to any kind of conclusion so I just ended up feeling sort of unsatisfied.
Also - as in the first book- I come away feeling that there is a great deal here that I just don't understand. In a number of places she will relate an incident or an occurance and then draw an implication or a conclusion from it that for me didn't follow at all. I feel like I'm not always able to follow the through line even though it clearly seems so self evident to her that she doesn't feel a need to connect the dots.
I don't know if this is a cultural or a personal disconnect, that I have trouble following because we are from such different backgrounds or because we have different natures and personalities. All of which is not to say that this was a badly written or uninteresting book because it most definitely was not. I think perhaps I am frustrated with it precisely because she can clearly write well and vividly and yet somehow she still remains for me always just slightly out of reach and out of focus.
Interestingly in this book Nafisi describes her mother as someone you can never quite grasp, someone who slips through your fingers like smoke, leaving you slightly bereft and at a little bit of loss. It seems to me she inherited some of those traits herself. Yet, again like the mother she describes, she is still a source of great interest as well as frustration.