4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Travels Into Discomfort by Kim Kieler is a non-fiction book that is very difficult to classify. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a poem that expresses the author's feelings and doubts. Soon after, there are reports of some trips that the author made in the 80s through many Asian countries. At the end of each chapter, there is also a letter written to the woman who allegedly abandoned the author because she was afraid of being someone "on the fringes of society."
Let me expand on what I mean by "hard to classify." The author is a lesbian who, when she wrote this work, was deeply hurt by the failure of a love relationship. During her travels through Asia, she discusses family, political, and cultural relationships and even expands on religious issues of the places she visited. The book contains some psychology, poetry, socio-economic analysis, romance, and travel descriptions. As such, I wouldn't rashly categorize this work as anything other than "non-fiction."
There are several exciting points worth mentioning. The accounts of the different countries the author traveled to are incredible and detailed. In each chapter, she describes in detail the aspects of the culture that she doesn't like, and the journey feels like both a spiritual quest and a process of healing past pains and wounds. Indirectly, the reader discovers details of the author's family life and some ambivalent relationships shock, such as Kim's relationship with her father: on the one hand, she loves him, but on the other, she resents his patriarchal and oppressive figure. The author feels depressed for not being different to change the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, but at the same time, she is proud of her individuality. The successful description of such confused and dubious feelings is the most vital asset of the book, in my opinion.
The book is full of sentimentality (I'm not referring to cliché and corny sentimentality here). The pages are filled with frustration and resentment, which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I loved the poems at the beginning of the chapters because they are genuine and express real emotions. The problem is that, in some parts, this same sentimentality makes the book confusing. The author seems to see lesbians everywhere, and when she says that her mother or any other woman is oppressed and unhappy, the reader doesn't know if that is real or just a projection of a soul that has been repressed for a long time. That is the only aspect of the book that I didn't like.
Overall, the qualities of Travels Into Discomfort far outweigh the minor defects. I can even say that the fact that the book is confusing in some parts presents a touch of authenticity and artistic quality as it perfectly portrays how a stunned and confused soul was at that moment. Thus, I rate it four out of four stars. I found three grammatical errors, but there is no doubt that the book is professionally edited.
I recommend this work to feminist women; some passages may be considered offensive to some religious people. Besides, there are countless obscene words, and the book should be read by people over 18 years old as phrases like this frequently appear: "What the f*ck is wrong with you people? Get a f****g grip on yourselves, you f****g morons."
Travels Into Discomfort
View: on Bookshelves