Last night when I was reacting/responding to Maureen Corrigan’s book review (Peter said I looked like I was getting ready to sharpen my claws. I didn’t know I had that kind of look.) I couldn’t stop thinking about her line about being an American reader.
“But the weird fascination of Please Look After Mom is its message — completely alien to our own therapeutic culture — that if one’s mother is miserable, it is indeed, the fault of her husband and her ungrateful children. As an American reader — indoctrinated in resolute messages about ‘boundaries’ and ‘taking responsibility’ — I kept waiting for irony; a comic twist in the plot; a reprieve for the breast-beating children.”
Besides being confused about her line about kimchee-scented Kleenex fiction I am wondering, quite honestly, what Corrigan meant by being an “American reader” because she and I both are just that.
Until college I grew up understanding that being American meant being White/Caucasian/of Eastern European descent or being African American, which was very different than White American but still American.
It meant apple pie (which I don’t recall actually making unless it was the frozen variety until adulthood) and baseball (which we didn’t grow up watching). It meant your ancestors were either connected to Plymouth Rock or Ellis Island. Being American meant no one asked you where you came from or where you learned your English or told you to go back to where you came from or to learn English.
So, while I know many of my readers tend to be a bit shy about commenting on the blog publicly because it can be a bit crazy out here I am asking all of you to comment, however brief it may be, to help fill out the picture of being American.
When you think of being American what comes to mind? Who do you imagine? What does being an American reader mean? How do Americans see things, experience things, communicate things?