Does Anyone Else Struggle to Identify with the Author?

Use this forum to discuss the January 2018 Book of the Month, "And Then I Met Margaret" by Rob White
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Amystl26
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Re: Does Anyone Else Struggle to Identify with the Author?

Post by Amystl26 » 08 Feb 2018, 10:24

kandscreeley wrote:
22 Jan 2018, 11:36
I can understand where you are coming from. However, even if I don't run with the bulls, I think that there are lessons we can still take away from his experiences. Plus, I think the main point of the book is to be aware of those around you that would teach YOU life lessons.
I agree! It's nice to be able to relate to an author and find similarities with your lives/thoughts/ beliefs. But, at the same time, isn't half the fun of reading to be able to experience something completely foreign to us through the eyes of another? Thanks for the post!

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Emma13
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Post by Emma13 » 10 Feb 2018, 06:57

AliceofX wrote:
23 Jan 2018, 08:29
I completely agree with you. For me, it wasn't just his lifestyle but his whole attitude that was off-putting. He came off as very self-centered and not self-aware at all. Even the whole Margaret thing didn't seem to change him at all. A lot of the book seemed like he was just bragging.
This was my feeling with it as well. When I reviewed the book, I felt like it had been getting a lot of positive feedback but I found some of it so uncomfortable to read. That whole Maasai chapter was just... yuck!

(If you're interested, this is my full review: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=54231 )

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Post by sitinaquia » 10 Feb 2018, 07:27

Thank you for posting this question! I am like most readers who have commented on here re identifying with the author only in the first few chapters of the book.
To me, it is not about the experiences (running with the bulls, helicopter ride etc.) that disconnect the author from myself but more on how he wrote about the experiences. For example, I watch the tv show Dexter and I could identify with the main character even though I promise you, I am not a serial-killer nor work in the police department. I have also just read the autobiography by Portia de Rossi on eating disorders. I never had eating disorders and I am far from a celebrity but the way the book was written could still somehow keep me engaged and in some ways, identify with her struggles.
So even though Rob White has all these wealth and privileges (that came later), he should have still been able to connect with the readers. He should have been able to show that despite his status and success, he is still a human like the rest of us but somehow that part is lost towards the end of the book as it progressed to "I am better than you so go to my website if you want to get to where I am".

A characteristic of the author that I cannot identify with is his instant self-reflection capability. I don't know how many people out there are able to process things in real-time and adjust their response immediately. I usually take at least a few hours, if not days or even weeks to realize that I should have reacted in some other manner. Ie. Rob was so angry about his shirt during the bulls scene but upon seeing another man being content with himself, the author could immediately switch his reaction. The same with his response towards Margaret. In a few seconds, he could have his perception changed, learnt the lesson Margaret has bestowed on him and able to respond to her in the most appropriate way as possible.
SPasciuti wrote:
25 Jan 2018, 16:53
I think the biggest thing I had a hard time relating to was the arrogance. It was definitely weird to feel as though some of the messages were incredibly important but to feel awkward about the way he passed those messages along? Which is kind of silly because I'm a huge supporter of Pay It Forward, but I just didn't like the pat on the back he repeatedly gave himself. It was hard to reconcile that with the idea that he was also proving that he wasn't simply stating things, but that he actually went out and did them and I'm unsure how he could have gotten that point across without seeming arrogant...but it definitely gave me a lot to think about.
Yes, thank you for mentioning the "pat on the back he repeatedly gave himself". That's what I feel too and I am 100% in with the Pay It Forward concept too. I feel like he gives himself too much credit for other people's achievements. It is one thing to tell stories of how he spreads kindness and inspirations but to say that someone's life has taken a turn for the better because of what he's said and done, is a bit too much.

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Post by Quinto » 11 Feb 2018, 10:47

He may come across as aloof in his writing and association, but the lessons are still invaluable based on his interactions with those outside his circle.

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Post by uyky » 11 Feb 2018, 11:51

I was thinking the same way. I identified with the first few chapters of the book, while the author was still a child. After that, I struggled to even finish it.

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Post by nfdaniel85 » 11 Feb 2018, 17:05

From what I've gleaned, I would imagine relating to his adult self as a reader would be difficult. If you let the lessons sink in and become successful in the same way as the author, he may become relatable in retrospect. Are his adult stories meant for your future self to relate?

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Post by mtsnel006 » 14 Feb 2018, 10:25

I could not really identify with the book, but I was able to put myself inside the author's shoes.

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Post by mnmueller » 14 Feb 2018, 11:42

I am in the same position. His childhood lessons were more effective for me because I could not only relate, but I could clearly see how he came to the conclusion he did when he came to it.

I started struggling about the time he starts in real estate, although having read the forward I knew it was coming. Some of his lessons I'm pretty sure could have conveyed in more grounded examples from his life, but the author likes to show off. He likes to be the best and have the best, most unique experiences. As such, sometimes finding the lesson felt more like a stretch.

I think by the end his experiences came to feel more fantastical to me. It's not that I think he made them up, it's just that I lost all of the sense of connection I felt in the beginning.

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Post by Snrains13 » 14 Feb 2018, 15:56

I understand what you mean, and I agree completely. The childhood was much easier to empathize with and I think the second half of the book would be harder for anyone to relate to in ordinary circumstances because the events weren't exactly everyday, run of the mill. I think he was trying to showcase his unique experiences, which of course isn't a bad thing, it was just harder to identify and connect with.

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Post by ashpres12 » 14 Feb 2018, 23:04

Christina Rose wrote:
24 Jan 2018, 01:15
Admittedly, I also find it very difficult to identify with the author. Even the myths highlighted could be a little off-putting, such as believing kindness is an act of self interest. However, I do think the reader can take a step back and gain a little something from the stories. If nothing else, perhaps we can all become more aware of the impact others have on our own growth and development.

I do agree with you that there is always something to learn and take away from the stories we read whether we like the author or not. The impact others have on us is not a thought people care to acknowledge but hopefully one day they will.

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Post by rik17 » 16 Feb 2018, 00:43

I think it's more about what these situations imply rather than what they actually are. But then, it's all about personal perspectives.

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Post by Insomniac07 » 16 Feb 2018, 01:28

I really empathised with the author because I saw parallels to my own life in many of his stories. For instance, though I'm definitely not as wealthy as Rob White, I share yearning for adventure, travel and having new experiences, but I really dislike driving. Most people in my country drive at least a scooter, but I tend to imagine all the worse possible outcomes and panic at the slightest things while driving. So I saw my refusal to drive similar to his refusal of the helicopter ride.
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Post by Cate Mbevi » 16 Feb 2018, 13:29

I too struggle to identify with Rob White. All those risks, ambitions, set backs and bounce backs.... are not for me.

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Post by Empress naria » 16 Feb 2018, 17:43

Definetly, sometimes you have to read over and over again to really understand what's going on. :eusa-think: it will turn a reader off top if there is a constant trend of misunderstanding.

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Post by freakkshowx » 16 Feb 2018, 22:36

Gunnar Ohberg wrote:
21 Jan 2018, 15:30
I am not holding anything against Rob White personally; in fact, I am very happy for him and his successes. However, I did struggle to empathize with him as he was learning lessons that involved running with the bulls, declining helicopter rides, doing tricks in a biplane, and lending out his Porsche. I related more with him during the first half of his book (his childhood), which I would argue made its lessons feel more effective. Again, I am not disparaging his wealth, I'm only exploring the relative nature of his lessons. What do you all think?

-Gunnar
This was one of my major qualms with the book, too. As a cross-marginalized person, I don't expect to identify with much of anyone in literature on a deep level, especially with nonfiction, but it was still disappointing to be unable to identify with any aspect of White's life. There are a great many books that cater to this type of person, but I doubt the author could have made the anthology more universally applicable, because this is the only life he's had.

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