But you know that feeling you get when people ask who would play you in the movie version of your life? There was a tone to the entire book that made me suspicious, as if I was reading the dramatization of Hamilton’s lived history. I mean, it was an awesome read because of it, but it also felt like it had to be a bit of a lie. Or at least it was throwing up sign posts that it was committing sins of omission. I know in the end she notes a few details that were altered for narrative reasons, and obviously when you sit down to write a memoir, you pick and choose among the most interesting bits of your experience, but the two major emotional upheavals that seem to occur–whatever it was that turned her against her mother so bitterly (surely there is more to unpack there than gets mentioned) and the split with her long-time girlfriend who saw her through the opening of the restaurant–goes without much comment. It is what it is.
That said, what little she does say sticks with you, so maybe the gritty details are best left just out of the frame. There’s a passage in which she is about to marry Michele, the Italian man she’s been having an affair with, and the girlfriend is now gone, but she gives her the last word in a way, all the while braiding it in with the food without getting ridiculous about it:
The negroni is a short and perfect aperitivo made of equal parts bitter Campari, sweet vermouth, and floral gin over a couple of ice cubes with a small slice of fresh orange dropped in it to release its oils. That perfectly Italian presence, which sparks your appetite and brightens your mood, holds in balance the sweet and the bitter, which I can’t help but think of metaphorically, as the relationship with the non-threatening Italian continued even after the girlfriend, whom I had come to think of as the great love of my life, finally left, giving me and our many shared years the double bird, that very same double bird I had taught her to use as a parking and driving tactic when she first arrived in New York. She and I have never spoken since.
Rebecca adds: Those glaring omissions about major life events left me shaking my head as well. After waxing rhapsodic about her early family life, nearly everyone is dropped, to never be heard of again. I know it’s the writer’s perogative to address issues s as she will, but it does feel like there are gaps that needed to be examined at greater length. But yes, the strength of Hamilton’s writing makes me forgive her, at least for the first two thirds of the book. We can get into her thoughts on the whole marriage relationship later.