UW Graduates Touching Childhood Memoir That Redefines Credible Perspective | Art
In an age of over-sharing, memories have become somewhat of a novelty, something to wade through when refreshing the pages of another person’s life is no longer satisfying. However, assuming that photos and blog posts replaced autobiographical writing wouldn’t be relevant – we just added to the practice of inviting others to share our memories.
“Suburban Legend,” the early memoir of UW writer and film and media studies graduate Diana Le, is a frameless montage whose content evokes both the cheeky posture of social media and the searing isolation of ‘Never Seen Journal Entries. Without visuals to critique and question their sincerity, Le’s memoir draws on recollections and transcriptions to tell a coming-of-age story marked by trauma and uncertainty.
Through online conversations, dismantled therapy notes, and statements to police and child welfare services, Le constructs a viscerally moving portrait of his life, from his childhood to the present day. Essays that ruminate on romantic attachments, brotherly bonds, body image, purpose, and perseverance cut these tangible inclusions with the speaking voice of the person at their center.
Le’s identity – and the care under which she grew and fought, to become too big – is more recognizable in the chapters which feature an interview with her mother, Lê Ngọc Anh. Le’s relationship with his mother is examined at length throughout the memoir, with the setting of the formal interview serving as a juxtaposition to Le’s accounts of violence, shame, and the limits of eternal love. The parallel that follows between who our parents were before us and what they become to us complicates the reader’s sympathetic response to both the trapped mother and the unprotected daughter.
“Suburban Legend” ‘is published by Girl Noise Press, an independent group The founded in homage to the revolutionary culture of acceptance fostered by forums like Rookie Mag. Le, whose career has so far spanned critical and creative pursuits, sees memoirs as a “return” to a self-reflective writing that honors the “weird and wonderful” spaces like Rookie that have made it possible for writers like her to share. and to be vulnerable.
Although Le has written personal essays for publications like Femsplain and Teen Vogue, there have been times when she has questioned her credibility as a writer who has vocalized formative parts of her life. Allowing himself to write for pleasure is what showed Le that youth is not always synonymous with inexperience; and the distance, in years, from the story itself is not always necessary to fulfill a writer’s purpose.
“In early 2019, I started writing essays again just for fun, not thinking about what they would be or what I would do with them,” Le wrote in an email. “But the more I wrote, the more I began to realize that these essays deserved to be a much larger project, like a book. I started writing the book when I was 27 and I’m 29 now by the time the book comes out, and I’m sure a lot of people think it’s still too young to write a memoir … But I thought it was important for me to write it and publish it now because my greatest hope for the book is that it can be a comfort to young girls and women in their late teens and in my twenties and I just don’t think it would sound the way I want it to if I waited for it until I was 50.
Le said that “Suburban Legend” is best described not as a memoir, but as an “autobiographical collage” that organizes essays and other storytelling elements like a puzzle. As much as the book experiences structure, it does so with openness and vulnerability on the part of the author. Le, who writes cathartically but never selfishly, and who with this publication invents a new hotbed for touching non-fiction, welcomes an understanding of his life and his lessons that resonates deeply in this era of superficial community.
“[This kind of writing] is really delicate and dangerous because I’m afraid it will hurt the people I’ve written about, ”Le wrote. “But I believe you have to write what needs to be written. And I needed to write this for myself, and I hope there will be someone who reads it at the right time and feels less alone.
“Suburban Legend” is available in print and online October 5th. For more information on the book and Girl Noise Press, visit Diana Le’s website.
Contact editor-in-chief Brooke Kaufman at [email protected] Twitter: @bkaufmanLJ
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