I enjoyed reading Carlene Bauer's well-written memoir, Not That Kind of Girl which provided an expose on the difficulties of balancing a truth ingrained since childhood with a palpable discovery of a new world as an artist, writer and New Yorker.
Where does one draw the line between what one believes intrinsically and what has been emblazened on one as a sort of second-hand tradition as a product of environment?-- such is Bauer's thesis in what is a gripping and irreverent memoir.
I didn't find this at all an attack on Christianity, fundamentalism or Evangelical life: rather an observation laced with personal anecdotes. Bauer's experience is certainly not universal and while those who are not connected or familiar with the church will indeed be strangers to a lot of the lingo she uses, the themes of insecurity, developing as a person and writer and deciding what, if anything, constructs faith are universal.
A true kuntslerroman, familiarity with literature ( especially of the Beatnik and College Survey course ilk ) are certainly helpful in piecing together the patchwork of Bauer's experience.
Descending from Plath and her contemporaries, Bauer is very interested in capturing moments: fleeting or prolonged in a melange of words carefully formatted to reflect the avant garde poetry she enjoys.
While this at times seems forced, especially in a memoir, and bogs down the otherwise readable prose, her inner artistry and penchant for craft are apparent.
What resonated most with me (a Christian who longs for intelligence, fierce drive and a reclaiming of a religion which preaches thoughtful engagement rather than stark hatred and resentment) was Bauer's empty feeling as a burgeoning critic, reader and thinker: " there was nothing in evangelical Christianity", she writes" suggesting intelligence should be used as a weapon for God, I was sure that when people talked about using our gifts to glorify Him, it meant that Godwas going to put me to work writing devotional guides for teenage girls" (p.60). Bauer is thoughtful, angry, introspective and often right.
The saddest part of the book for me was not her personal fall from Christianity so much so that her voice had left the faith bereft: for a religion which could use a healthy dollop of intelligence and clever, snappy writing, I was sad that we (Christians) had "lost" her.
An engaging, satisfying and very different read about a spiritual journey with more than one road bump.
Bauer respects religion and often tells laugh- aloud stories of its persistence in her life: whether she is trying to run fast away or diving head first in something new.
A refreshing read.
Bauer is quite a prolific writer and you can read an interview with her here
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Please purchase a copy of Not That Kind of Girl here!
I would like to thank TLC tours for the copy of this book.
Next up on the schedule:
Monday, August 2nd: A Certain Bent Appeal
Wednesday, August 4th: Sara’s Organized Chaos