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Fighting Angel: 01/25/07

Fighting Angel

Pearl S. Buck was the daughter of a Southern Presbyterian missionary. Though she was born in the United States, she grew up in China. Fighting Angel is her biography and memoir of her father Absalom Sydenstricker (or Andrew as he's called in the book). The book is written with Buck's usual straightforward approach of weaving simple words together into fully realized worlds.

Her memoir though is written without warmth. Though she refers to herself sometimes in the first person, she calls her parents by their first names (Carie and Andrew). I don't know if these names were their actual nicknames or if she altered them slightly on purpose. She also sometimes refers to herself as Comfort (her middle name) making it seem as if she is speaking of a different person.

The portrait she paints of her father isn't complimentary. She focuses on his religious zeal for saving souls but repeated notes that he only believed a certain subset of humankind had souls worth saving (namely men of certain means). She goes on to describe how her father hated women, hated the rich, hated fat people, hated most of his family and so forth. Yet somehow she seems to expect her readers to respect this man that was her father!

While I enjoyed her style of writing I came away not feeling I knew her any better and knowing that if I had met her father I'd have to restrain myself from punching him in the nose. I am glad I read the book but it isn't a book I would want to reread.

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