Hello my fellow little munchkins. How are you all doing? I am doing well. Yesterday was actually my birthday but that just means that I am going to be posting an extra post this week compared to less which I think we can all agree is a better idea than posting less which is something that I do more then less of sadly.
Anyways, I really do think that you will all enjoy this post. So why don’t we get into it?
Book Title: Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short
Author: Jan Risher
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 312 pages
Genre: Memoir/collection of essays that create a narrative
Publisher: Sans Souci Press, imprint of University of Louisiana Press
Release date: Oct 9, 2018
Tour dates: Dec 3 to 14, 2018
Content Rating: G
Jan Risher took the long way to get from Mississippi to Louisiana with stops in between in Slovakia, Mexica, China, Burkina Faso and more than 40 other countries. Since moving to Louisiana, she has been a Sunday columnist for The Daily Advertiser and has written a column every single Sunday since 2002.
Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short is the collection of columns written over 15 years. Arranged in chronological order, the collection creates a narrative of one woman’s aim to build her family, build up her community and weave the stories and lessons learned from the past into the present.
From her family’s move to Louisiana, adoption of a daughter from China, covering Hurricane Katrina, travels near and far, author Jan Risher attempts, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, to do her small part to make the world a better place.
This is a wonderful collection of short essays and stories. Each of the short essays and stories had there own theme to them but was also able to complement well with each other. They all had their own little personal characteristics and were both able to stand on their own or alone.
They all had their own personal arcs and their own messages but all in all tied back to one huge message which was something that was very enjoyable.
Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short is unlike other memoirs I’ve read recently. My book is a collection of short essays that weave a narrative thread over a 15-year time span, with each year from 2002-2017 serving as a chapter.
Many of the essays I’ve written through the years attempt to connect the dots between memories from a childhood in Mississippi to the present — constantly asking beneath the surface, “How did we get here from there?” Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that the big question the collected essays are attempting to answer boils down to, “How did the daughter of a football coach from small-town Mississippi grow up, travel the world and continue to love but still feel so different from the place and people who raised her?”
Even though our childhoods were as different in detail and geography as they could be, I believe Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime, asks a similar question. However, his book is written in traditional narrative form rather than shorter essays. Even so, Noah’s recollections go back and forth between his past and his present constantly asking and attempting to answer the same basic question.
When I read his book, I already knew I liked him and was automatically interested in the who, what, where, why of his childhood — wondering how he became the insightful, intelligent, funny person he is today. In contrast, I’ve wondered how my own stories hold up to those beyond my personal circle. I rely on an idea I did my best to teach students when I was a teacher — the more specific a story, the more universal its appeal.
In that sense, I see similar themes between my book and other memoirs, including Noah’s. I believe the insights and questions Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers raises are great fodder for personal growth and reflection — as well as the telling of one’s own or one’s family’s stories.
Some families literally use the book when their family gathers around the dinner table. They read one of the essays and start asking each other questions inspired by the theme — encouraging the sharing of stories between generations.
Jan Risher is an award-winning journalist and investigative reporter. She was managing editor of The Times of Acadiana. Before and after her time as a full-time journalist, she was an English teacher. She has taught English near and far, in its most basic and most lyrical forms. She continues her career as a freelance writer and now owns Shift Key, a content marketing and public relations firm. She, her husband and their two daughters have made their home on the banks of the Vermilion River.