It’s useful to be reminded that compared to how people lived only a few decades ago – and still do almost everywhere – we lead truly charmed lives. The way Lidia Falcón had to discipline her mind and body to feed her children in the 1950s Spain makes it clear that my life is that of royalty in comparison.
Falcón is a very sincere autobiographer who is at her best when she refrains from attempts at political analysis and concentrates on describing daily life. She has no insight and with an earnestness that characterizes most autobiographers advances the idea of her complete infallibility that is rivaled only by the extremely flawed nature of everybody around her. Unlike other autobiographers, however, Falcón is not a liar. It never occurs to her to conceal the details of her life that reveal her as a pretty obnoxious, deeply self-involved individual.
But that’s what makes the book fun, right? Who wants to read about perfect people who find a lesson in everything? I hate those smug bastards. Falcón is not like that. She’ll make the same mistake a million times and narrate it with zero insight but also no attempt to present a human life as an endless self-improvement project.
It’s so annoying that Michelle Obama’s autobiography is a mega bestseller when the woman faced no hardship, achieved nothing of interest, and can’t even write anything on her own. Falcón, on the other hand, is a very good writer who had a fascinating life. She overcame truly enormous challenges. She never had a man to protect her from life. She faced hunger, dictatorship, jail, amphetamine addiction, a deadbeat husband she couldn’t divorce because it wasn’t legal, and a domineering yet brilliant mother. What this woman had to undergo to get her law degree was harsh beyond words. And she writes about it in a way that keeps you glued to the page.
Yet Falcón didn’t become a bitter hag like Michelle. At the end of the 800-page autobiography in two volumes, she’s still a sunny, funny woman in love with life and the Prince Charming she finally managed to land. Compare this to the ultra-bitter and preachy Michelle who has led the life of extraordinary privilege and experienced no hardship. As a role model, Michelle offers nothing. Marry well and you’ll be fine. Yeah, huge news. Forget all that, and tell us instead how to do well if you don’t marry the future president of the United States. That’s a lot more relevant to our lives.
Sadly, this book hasn’t been translated to English. And it won’t be until American readers lose their fascination with condescending frauds like Michelle and develop an interest in real people with real problems and actual personalities.
I’m very glad that after two duds, the third book I read this year was outstanding. Things are looking up!
P.S. I only mention Michelle Obama’s autobiography on the days when somebody recommends I read it. So please no criticism on this account. I’ll cease and desist the moment people stop bringing it up.