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Sarah M. Broom

Forfatter af The Yellow House: A Memoir

2+ Works 1,054 Members 41 Reviews

Om forfatteren

Sarah M. Broom received her Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She was awarded a Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant in 2016 and was a finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction in 2011. She has also been vis mere awarded fellowships at Djerassi Resident Artists Program and The MacDowell Colony. She lives in New York state. vis mindre

Værker af Sarah M. Broom

Associated Works

The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker (2021) — Bidragyder — 92 eksemplarer

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When I look at you all, I don't really see the house, but I see what happened from the house. And so in that way, the house can't die.

This is the memoir of a house. A house that was only yellow in its later years, but one that was in the Broom family for decades and one that represents so much more than just a house.

This house was situated in New Orleans East, a part of New Orleans that never appears on the tourist maps and was bought by Ivory Mae in 1961 with the insurance money she gained when her first husband died. It was a shotgun house (I didn't know what they were but this is a good explanation) and was never going to be big enough for all 12 children as they came and went over the years. It was also a house that was traduced by institutional racism, shame and the wear and tear of a large family along with mother nature having a good go at taking it back. Friends were never invited back to the house and Ivory Mae used to say,

You know this house not all that comfortable for other people.

It wasn't always comfortable for the family.

You, kitchen, do not warm me. You, living room, do not comfort me. You, bedroom, do not keep me.

But nor was New Orleans East comfortable.

Everything in the East slipped - into stasis, entropy, full-blown disrepair. The oil bust in the late 1980s led to a surplus of empty apartment buildings meant for employees who would work for booming industries that never materialized.

When Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, wiping it out, we all saw the images on our screens of people left, who didn't manage to escape or didn't want to, before the waters came in. Not everyone had somewhere else to go to and so it was the poor and the sick, the elderly and those who clung onto their possessions as they had so little, the majority of whom were Black and had to be rescued to an overcrowded centre. Broom was not in New Orleans at the time although her family were. This left her with guilt about not being there, worry about where some of her family members were and she became uncentred.

Broom then had a series of jobs which took her to New York, Berundi, to New Orleans but this time in the French Quarter where all the tourists flock, but couldn't settle. She was someone who had moved away and so didn't feel like she belonged anywhere, not her home city, not another country (Berundi is a little extreme) and not New York at that time. Perhaps, not even to herself. And then there was what Katrina did to the house. It split it apart and then the local government knocked it down. And New Orleans East changed.

The loss of the house untethered Broom and what follows is the howl of someone who can't seem to find her place. To me it reads not just about a loss of place but also comes from never knowing her father, he died before she was born, and something else that is never mentioned in the book. I don't know what it is but this restlessness seems to be due to more than this, although these things would be enough. I could be horribly wrong. Her family, who had all lived in New Orleans, were scattered across the country now, never to return so not only are people suffering with the loss of their home but also their family and community.

Broom has a degree in journalism, and this book is definitely written differently. Although the content is emotional, the style of writing isn't. It sounds rude to say it is flat but that's what it feels like. The writing does not go up and down with the emotions. In places, the small paragraphs and description feel like a photograph is being described, either real or imagined and there is some great use of different sentence constructions such as the imperatives in this section.

Find Lynette and me at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, swinging out at Marcus Garvey Park. Spot us in the crowded ampitheater.

It's like looking at a photo and trying to identify them. In living for a year in the French Quarter, Broom acknowledges that she is looking for 'centrality, a leading role so to speak in the story of New Orleans'. If you look through the telephoto lens, it is also the story of America.

It is a perfect book for a book club and I am left with some questions.

Do we all define ourselves by where we come from?

A lot of this book focuses on the duality in Broom's life, the way they dressed versus the state of their home. Are there other examples of duality in the book and do we all have them?

How much does story of your family's past focus in the present day?

What family firsts do you remember or have had told to you? I can still remember the day my Nana ate her first ever yoghurt.

'Remembering is a chair that is hard to sit still in.' p223. Is it?
… (mere)
allthegoodbooks | 40 andre anmeldelser | Feb 9, 2024 |
Probably 4.5 Stars if that was an option. This was a very enjoyable read. The subject matter isn't always light and airy, by any means, but the descriptions of childhood impressions are vivid and magic, and paint scenes and moods with tangible detail. I especially liked her take on being found out as very nearsighted at the age of ten - almost identical to my own experience. She goes on to describe a revelation after getting glasses - "trees have leaves" - that is the exact same thing that happened to me. This author is someone I would really like to meet, someday - that would be quite interesting. I thought as it neared the end that the story wandered and repeated a bit, but that is a minor quibble. Highly recommended and deserving the praise it has received.… (mere)
Cantsaywhy | 40 andre anmeldelser | Jun 20, 2023 |
I know this book has been widely acclaimed. I couldn’t get into it.
cathy.lemann | 40 andre anmeldelser | Mar 21, 2023 |
Aagh! Why did this have to return to the library when I had only 7% left?! When will I get to finish it?!!!

(Added: Three weeks later, the hold list got back to me and I finished it. I learned a bit about New Orleans. Glad I was able to get it back while I still remembered what was going on.)
CarolHicksCase | 40 andre anmeldelser | Mar 12, 2023 |



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