Dreher-fan Jordan Poss writes a generally positive review of HDCSYL. But it is also quite honest, and he can't help pointing out several things with which I heartily agree. Excerpts:
Despite returning home, Dreher recounts that his relationships with family—especially his father and nieces—were terrible. I like Dreher a lot and value his opinions, but having read his work for several years now, he strikes me as a classic oversharer. Reading Little Way, I could only wonder, despite being moved to tears, what his family thought of such a soul-baring memoir. In my experience, a tell-all—even an affectionate, nostalgic tell-all—alienates people. This book gave me an answer: “I showed Mike the manuscript of Little Way before I turned it in, and asked him to let me know if he wanted me to make any changes. He did not ask for changes, but as I learned later, the book displeased him greatly. He thought I had used his wife’s death to tell a story about myself” (30). As a reader, I too had had a hard time escaping this impression.
We told you so, we told you so. Of course we all had that impression. The reason that Mike Leming thought Rod Dreher had used his wife’s death to tell a story about himself was that Rod Dreher had used Mike's wife’s death to tell a story about himself.
I really liked How Dante Can Save Your Life, but I still wonder about the propriety of what Dreher has chosen to share with his readers—especially considering that one of the sources of strife within his family is his previous book. Dreher writes with great feeling and sincerity but, as another reviewer has noted, the narration sometimes comes across as self-pitying, even in the later stages when he has learned how selfish he is and is striving toward greater humility. Even as he learns to let go of his bitterness and anger, he reminds himself over and over again of the incidents that made him bitter and angry.
Yes; he seems to love being bitter and angry. It's as if I said to Keith, "Keith, I have totally gotten over the time that you made fun of the space helmet I made for Halloween when I was 27 years old, and I hope that nothing will ever, EVER remind either one of us how much I cried about that at the time, and then got drunk and broke up with my girlfriend. But now that I've read Dante's Divine Comedy, I'm ready to forgive you ONCE AND FOR ALL for that and I will do so right after I pass out and take a 5-hour nap."