Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life eBook


  • Hardcover
  • 224 pages
  • Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life
  • Yiyun Li
  • English
  • 05 June 2014
  • 9780399589096

10 thoughts on “Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life

  1. Esil Esil says:

    I'm not going to finish this book and I'm not going to rate it I couldn't uite figure out what I was reading a memoir thoughts about other authors snippets of disconnected thoughts about life death and writing? But it's hard for me to be too be harsh and give it a low rating because Li appears to have written her book in the context of a serious depression including than one hospitalization This book seems to be her attempt to figure things out through reflections on her life and other writers but to me as a reader it felt aimless and impenetrable At one point Li writes of another author Reading her is like trudging through a frozen snowfield in the dark Even though her words seem to have been written out of the wish to communicate together they take on a frustrating opaueness Exactly Maybe Li's book will make sense to others but it wasn't for me Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy


  2. Kusaimamekirai Kusaimamekirai says:

    This memoir by Yiyun Li of her struggle with depression made me extremely uncomfortable Not simply the despair and confusion that is so evident in the writing as well as in the format itself there is no formal structure per se but rather a loose collection of experiences recollections of books and writers important to her and random thoughts but rather I couldn't escape from the feeling that I was reading something I shouldn't be If a troubled person allows you the briefest glimpse into their inner turmoil and darkness should you take them up on it? As somebody who asks himself many of the uestions Li grapples with here I couldn't imagine being able to describe some of the things she does here and certainly not with the incredible writing she has been gifted What she produces are the words of a conflicted person who is struggling but at other times at peace with herself This duality is reflected in the former when she says I wished that life could be reset but reset from when? Li at times wishes she had a different life even if it isn't the career in immunology that she left behind to become a writer even if she doesn't know what form it would take but what would that life look like? And in the latter when during her hospitalisation following a suicide attempt a nurse acknowledges her sadness but wants to know why she is sad To which Li responds Can't I just be left alone in my sadness? The I read the I admired this sentiment Li has felt this sadness her whole life And her whole life people have presumed to be able to take it away from her or that it is even something she is able to discard What she is saying here and in the memoir as a whole is that sometimes she doesn't need to be understood pitied or fixed By the end of this memoir I came away feeling somewhat in awe not only of her talent in attempting to express the inexpressible even if she wasn't always successful and with a deep respect for her willingness to expose her loneliness and confusion to a wide audience I sincerely hope doing so brought her some of the peace and comfort I felt while reading it


  3. El El says:

    In 2012 Chinese American author Yiyun Li was hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideations Out of this breakdown after enough time had passed Li was able to write about and share her experiences through this collection of essays Not all of the essays are explicitly about her depression but there are often glimmerings of a long history of mental illness throughout her life which she retells with what feels like a lot of emotional distance – perhaps out of a fear of getting too close to her past againLi investigates her life and her mental illness through the literature she reconnected with after her brush with suicide – Stefan Zweig William Trevor Elizabeth Bowen Marianne Moore Katherine Mansfield from whose notebooks she lifted the title of this essay collection John McGahern Like many writers she found solace in the words of others seeing how they lived their lives and how she could find her way back to herself Like the other essays about her mental illness she does not seem to fully embrace her own narrative – rather she seems to always talk about her experiences from a distance though it’s evident that literature has long been a driving force and a saving grace for herFor years I have had the belief that all my uestions will be answered by the books I am reading Books however only lead to booksp164 Through writing about other authors she meanders through her thoughts by investigating what it is to be a writer and specifically what it is to be a writer of autobiography and memoir “A writer can deny that she is autobiographical But what is revealed and what is concealed expose eually” p101 She allows that a writer’s choice to share andor not share has eual value in terms in what the reader gets out of the writing – the writer is always revealed in the end This holds true in my perception of Li’s writing no matter how much distance she seems to want to put between herself and her words Her essays are often difficult to pinpoint a specific thesis and the reader is taken on a bit of a journey over the course of the reading experience in order to see where Li finally lands in the end She touches on a lot of uality truths about life and writing and what it means to exist but it takes a while for her to expose the many layers which comprise her essays and land on her final thoughtsI read this because I was searching for personal essays which were unusual touched on difficult subjects or simply had a strong female voice Li's collection touches on all of that criteria which I found helpful while also giving me a different insight into the world of writingDetails preserved by memory can be dull significant only to the one remembering but it is the mundane that remains mysteriousp177


  4. Michelle Michelle says:

    This is actually not a memoir but rather an overall exploration of literature and criticism “Dear Friend from My Life I Write You In Your Life” is the first book of non fiction by Chinese American writer and award winning novelist Yiyun Li Throughout the book Li injected brief details from her life writing career showing the lingering effects and impact of her mental illness Li resides in Oakland California with her husband and sons Arriving in the US from China Li felt like a new and liberated person Leaving her career as a scientist she would graduate from the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop doing most of her early writing between midnight and 400 AM Li began by sharing brief details of her lonely childhood in the family apartment in Beijing Family responsibilities likely included helping care for mentally unstable mother; her father was described as “fatalistic” and “stoic”—teaching Li meditation when she was 11 Li’s sister was in medical school during the Tiananmen Suare ProtestsMassacre 1989 and came to the aid of individuals during the hunger strikes in BeijingEarly on literature played an important role in Li’s life her book is a testament to the therapeutic effects of literary influence direction and solace with the connection of literary figures having similar situations as our own Li traveled to midland Ireland to study the prolific novelist John McGahern 1934 2006 he had lived in “uiet desperation” partially isolated from others Thomas Mann was sharply critical of the double suicide of Austrian novelistplaywright Stefan Zweig 1881 1942 with his second wife Lotte Altmann Li recalled the suicidal urge and the intense need to stop pain Vague references were made throughout the book of Li’s mental health hospitalizations which seemed like nearby shadowy background occurrences Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev 1818 83 had never married instead obsessively loved a beautiful opera singer and befriended her husband Many of the author’s and poet’s Li profiled were lesser known single solitary individuals and her inspiration from their work was easily recognized though readers may not personally relate agree or identify with her subject matter or views For example Li wrote“A writer and reader should never be allowed to meet They live in different time frames When a book takes on a life for a reader it is already dead for the writer” It was a good thing that Irish author William Trevor 1928 2016 didn’t share this view he corresponded with Li and met her for lunch in Boston in 2007 Li had his first note to her framed and is one of her most prized possessionsAlthough Li’s books have been translated in over 20 languages Li realized a “private salvation” in “disowning” her native language and felt that many Chinese from China and the west viewed her as a “cultural traitor” for not producing writing in Chinese During her mental episodes of un wellness Li dreamt of her life in Beijing becoming an American citizen in 2007 This book took about two years to produce and must be read and re read carefully Li’s thought process was often difficult to follow her reflections could be bleak and depressing and it was easier to feel sympathetic towards her Li teaches creative writing at the University of California Honestly not recommended for the common reader—this book would be very beneficial for literary mental health study andor research With appreciation to the Seattle Public Library


  5. Lee Lee says:

    Not what I was expecting at all I thought it'd be a gently discursive series of themed essays a delightfully readable act of philanthropyaltruism a stocking filler full of Buddhist koans etc It is instead a very bleak and insightful memoir full of harrowing truths uotable misery and hard won wisdom It's blackly funny and very sad And she visits William Trevor always good


  6. Jim Elkins Jim Elkins says:

    An Author Disconnected from the PresentI feel than the usual unease about the uncharitable things I want to say about this book because the book is a modestly recounted meditation about a period of suicidal depression As Michael Hofmann says in the London Review of Books Yiyun Li's book is intimate but not personal; or personal but not privateJune 2017 and it is as literary as Pessoa or Vila Matas There are any number of complimentary things that could be said about her attempts at honesty and truth A fair amount of the book is about writers and readers and the literary life and it is very much concerned with communities and possibilities for understanding and empathy But I felt consistently excluded from the book's imaginary roster of readers because the writers who engage her imagination both as models for her own writing and as lives she can hope to understand are so conservative The book ends with a partial list of writers she has mentioned; they include Austen Chekhov Hardy Hemingway Tolstoy Mansfield and Turgenev There are a few moderns mainly Larkin d 1985 and Moore d 1972 Li opens and closes the book with stories about her friendship with the Irish authors William Trevor and John McGahern Those choices epitomize my unhappiness They were both excellent writers but also among the most conservative of their generation Not only are the modernists missing Joyce is hardly mentioned but so is the entire last fifty years of Irish fiction Surely Li knows many of them personally since she teaches at Princeton and has attended writers' events for decades But modernists pstmodernists and younger writers do not impinge on her imagination despite the fact that many have written about the same issues that preoccupy her in this book I'm thinking of Enright and McBride in particularThe authors she reads are this book's main interlocutors much prominent than the scattered and often susprisingly painful memories of her mother her friends or her fellow patients It makes sense that what matters most are the authors' letters not their fiction because this book is about imaginative connections between lives and not the craft of fiction In that sense it may not be cogent to complain that Li cites mainly 19th and early 20th century writers But younger writers postmodern writers contemporary writers also write letters and novels about letters Li could just as easily have found her issues thereThis is why I feel compelled to make this complaint and why I sense I am excluded from the otherwise accommodating field of this book's imagined readers In my own field the history of art there is a history of modern Chinese artists responding to the conservative strains of modernism Matisse instead of Picasso the School of Paris instead of surrealism neoromanticism instead of conceptual art and so on Even now the traces of those preferences can be found in art academies and in work that does not participate in the uniform expectations of the international art market I can't help but see Yiyun Li as part of that same phenomenon but whatever the reasons her choices exclude me from the roster of writers I am invited to imagine she might engage And that's a pity because her book could only have been written in the 21st century Its honesty about suicide its affinity to autofiction its fragmented self uestioning all make it contemporary but the literary world that provides its stories ended in the last centurySince I raised this uestion I'll make a brief and very tentative attempt at an answer The kinds of ruminations and observations that apparently sustained her at least on the page as opposed to what might have been said and thought in the hospital a site we are not allowed to witness have a certain character They flow easily into one another forming loosely enchained chapters bound by themes There's an elegance to that and it's an elegance that may very well have been healing but it is far from the fragmented disconnected dissociative forms of the imagination in other books written under pressure of suicidally strong thoughts such as Beckett's Watt Handke's Sorrow Beyond Dreams or Bachmann's Malina The contemporary the writer the extreme the forces that work against the sort of mellifluous prose in this book The back cover endorsements on my copy of Li's book include one by Marilynne Robinson perhaps the current height of trust in seamlessly unfurling prose But I am only guessing here


  7. Craig Craig says:

    I chose Dear Friend to read something different than I usually would Having now finished it I find it difficult to form a coherent opinion because it was a difficult read in that I never felt like I understood the perspective of the author It is a book of essays by a Chinese author who writes only in English has twice attempted suicide and exhibits a preference for reading the letters of other writers This made it hard work to get through but nevertheless still satisfying in its wayHowever it is just this difficulty that I feel made it well worth my while – it opened my mind to a perspective that I otherwise would never have encountered But at no point was it a fun read or an entertaining one except that I did occasionally enjoy the references to other books I will probably seek out the work of these authors she refers to and she hopefully includes a list of books after the main text I truly appreciated this pleasant surprise feeling as if it had been done for me So maybe the author and I do have something in common after all


  8. Elena Elena says:

    The same uality of Yiyun's fictional prose tiptoeing through my brain then settling in for thoughts long after lives in her nonfiction writing This is a beautiful collection of essays exploring her bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts Part memoir part lit crit all wonderful writing This book will definitely find itself among my stack of books to be revisited annually


  9. Jane Jane says:

    This rating system doesn't allow me to say what I mean about Dear Friend There were sections that blew me away I love the way Yi describes her relationships with books and authors Some of these like William Trevor are alive and become actual friends friends that Yi meets and corresponds with Others like Katherine Mansfield are friends she knows only through their writing Mansfield's phrase is actually borrowed for the title of this book Trevor's books allow and perhaps inspire Yi to become a writer rather than the scientist she came to the United States to be English is Yi's chosen language as a writer She leaves Chinese behind and does not permit her books to be translated into Chinese I sense the importance words hold for her and the labyrinth that words create for her I often got lost as I read I kept going because there are passages which are often so beautiful Here's one describing a childhood memory that she includes in her novella Kindness she sees a peddler selling spring chicks and begs her father to buy one They are not a rich family and her father is distressed Two women seeing her weeping buy her two chicks although her father warns her the chicks are too young to last than a day or two She feeds and cares for them names them gives them aspirin dissolved in water when they begin to get sick After they die she goes to the kitchen steals two eggs carefully cracks them wipes out the yolk and white and No matter how hard I tried I could not fit the chicks back into the shells I have learned since then that life is like that each day ending up like a chick refusing to be returned to the eggshell I loved the chapter about the author's visit to the Irish home of John Mc Gahern a writer she is fascinated by She writes about the startling realization that a story he has told an unmistakeable event from someone else's life had left uneuivocal evidence McGahern's life was lived among his people his books written among his people His characters real and fictional are no better than their creator who again unlike many of his brilliant countrymen wastes no time in seeking originalityThe people and the language and the landscape were like my breathing Mc Gahern writes What was tough for me is the abstract way that Yi describes her psychological state during several periods of depression Here's an example To be than one and be several and to live with the conseuence is inevitable One can err the opposite way and the belief in being nothing used to seem to me the most logical way to live Being nothing is being invisible and replaceable; being nothing to others means remaining everything to oneself Being nothing is one way to battle the autoimmune condition of the mind and this is closest to my friend's silence Yet silence is not melodrama or at least is not presenting itself to beI was either enthralled or utterly perplexed and distanced as I read this book For those who already have read and loved Li's books this book gives a deep sense of her emotional life and her life as a reader The latter was what intrigued me It seems as though her emotional life is still to raw to share in a way that connects at least with m


  10. Ann Girdharry Ann Girdharry says:

    This memoir is a string of thoughts unanswerable uestions philosophical explorations and personal pain The author tells us of her own misunderstandings and attempts to understand life It's written in an elouent flowing way nothing jars and this makes it easy to read even though the material is so denseThere is no spiritual thread rather the author draws on the works of those authors she has most loved Some of these authors she knew personally or made deliberate contact with so that she could meet them and she writes about these encounters in the book Many of the authors she was drawn to battled with mental illness and a number of them took their own lives Pretty much all of them wrote about existential problems and the pain and futility of life at least that's how I interpreted it since with the exception of Hardy I have not read Li's long list of favourite authors myself In this memoir some passages are highly personal and these are the ones which worked best for me In particular I liked to read about Li's childhood in China and her troubled relationship with her mother and her ultimate abandonment of her mother tongue Li has a rare insight into the soul of others and the troubles of a nation be that America or China I also liked to read of her early memories of America and life as a new immigrant What worked less well for me were the lengthy passages where she uotes the works of other authorsI found this a touching book though ultimately it wasn't really for me I received a copy of this book from NetGalley


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Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life[Reading] ➸ Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life Author Yiyun Li – Liversite.co.uk What a long way it is from one life to another yet why write if not for that distance Startlingly original and shining with uiet wisdom this is a luminous account of a life lived with books Written ov What a long way it is from My Epub ß from one life to another yet why write if not for that distance Startlingly original and shining with uiet wisdom this is a luminous account of a life lived with books Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not Dear Friend Kindle - her own She has been a scientist an author a mother a daughter and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Soren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together Interweaving personal experiences with a wide ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential uestions of her identity Why write And why live.


About the Author: Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing from My Epub ß China and moved to the United States in She received an MFA from Iowa Writers' Workshop and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker The Paris Reviewand elsewhere She has received a Whiting Writers' Award and was awarded a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa TX Her debut.