Friday, July 15, 2011

GRIP: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions



GRIP: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions
Author Nina Hamberg


Set in San Francisco in the 1970s, Grip is the true story of how an eighteen-year-old fends off a stalker with just her wits. She goes on to become the toughest female martial artist in her karate school, an early advocate for women’s rights, and a residential counselor for troubled teenage boys. For her, the best way to make her world safe is to seek out threats and face them head-on. Even in personal relationships, this five-foot fighter is drawn to men with volatile tempers, men like her father. But her strategy of confronting danger doesn’t free her from her past — it creates a wake of greater destruction. Only by marshaling the strength to be vulnerable can she discover intimacy and love.


Review: I've never thought of myself as a memoir reader, but recently I've received some incredible books that have me rethinking my position. What I've realized is I'm drawn to memoirs with gritty honestly and self derogating humility. No nostalgic self-reflection retelling of events for me, please. What I love about Nina Hamberg's, Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions is, like others have suggested, this memoir reads like a fiction novel. Although I'm certain there are many other parts to Nina's life, she takes a string of habits and events and pulls the narrative along without splintering or leaving the story dangling.  This is real-life, but there is a clear thematic plot full of grainy flaws, sharp wit and humility that are psychologically fascinating without the extra scoop of self-help blah that I think usually turns me off to memoirs.  


Personally, I've always considered myself a feminist, but truthfully never related to the stereotypical female associated with this label. What I found in Grip is another female (feminist) character that despite generation, geography and age, I can identify with in a meaningful and relevant way. Strength is not the absence of vulnerability and feeling safe takes more than just a self-defense class.  Despite her feminist views, Nina finds herself still in the grip of her own sexuality -- whether it is to use it to her advantage or disadvantage.  


This isn't just a book for women. Nina is fair in her portrayal of men and I think raises the question, “Whenever either gender feels threatened (whether emotionally or physically), what defense mechanism do we tend to resort to?”  It's difficult to deny being creatures of habit and realizing the common default factors we chose to take. In the end, I don't care if this is a true story or not, because it is simply a very good read that I'd recommend. And, if you think you're not a 'memoir' reader like I once did, I'd wager this book would happily surprise you, so give it a try.
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Website: http://ninahamberg.com/
SPECIAL SALE going on through September 1st
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