This week’s blog is a hard one for me to write. I’m breaking all the rules I set for myself.
First, I was going to stay away from best selling books. There are so many books worth reading that could use light beamed their way, I prefer to concentrate my efforts there.
Second, as I’ve said before, memoir is my least favorite genre. We love to fall back on Tolstoy’s quote that happy families are all alike and unhappy families are different but in the case of most memoirs, there is a resoundingly similar unhappy theme for children ( think The Glass Castle, Educated, Boy Erased, maybe Angela’s Ashes, if considered memoir). This one is no exception. So I usually stay away.
And third, I don’t want this to be a political blog.
So here I am talking about a best-selling memoir about a political figure.
But it’s about TRUMP. And I thought I should read it. If you don’t want to, here are some basic takeaways.
Mary L. Trump, niece of Donald, daughter of older brother, Fred, has both the credentials to assess his psychological profile and the firsthand experience to observe his behavior. She holds a PhD from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and has taught graduate courses in trauma, psychopathology, and developmental psychology.
There has been all kinds of conjecture about Trump’s mental fitness, ability to absorb information, speak articulately, extend empathy toward others. It goes on. So I was interested in what she might have to say. Is it a general lack of intelligence? Mental deficiencies? Dementia? Pathology beyond narcissism?
If readers are looking for anything salacious, or some kind of tell all, this is not the book. It reads like a therapist wrote it. As she is. The first 100 pages or so lay out the family history and is dedicated to the tragic story of her father, Fred, and the impact that had on how Donald’s personality and behavior were formed.
I’ll tell you this, I had a stomach ache the whole time I read it. The parts on Freddy’s childhood was for me the agonizing destruction of a son”s soul at the hand of a father. Donald observed this and thus devised his framework for winners and losers.
Just to give you a bit of Trump family background, there is nothing warm and fuzzy about it. His grandfather fled Germany to avoid the military and made a fortune in brothels in Canada. His father was a landlord who passed himself off as a property developer to rake in government subsidies for schemes that never materialized. His housing was substandard, he was well known for housing discrimination, and didn’t even properly heat an apartment his son, daughter-in-law, and baby lived in.
Growing up in the Trump house provided no love from either parent. Donald’s values were instilled early. He lied because he grew up among liars. It boosted his fragile ego, and it became a habit without consequences. He watched his father destroy his older brother and learned to be what his father wanted. He was never loved so he learned self love. His father bank rolled him to be a do nothing and rewarded him for each failure—bankruptcies, deals gone wrong, and decisions that hemorrhaged money.
The Guardian has made this keen observation:
They also remark that he has been rewarded his whole life for having “failed upwards.” What an interesting concept. No consequences but reward for one bust after another.
I found this to be a painful read. It’s a short book and goes quickly. I can’t imagine how hard it was for Dr. Trump to have to relive, organize her thoughts, and put this book out in this divided, angry world we live in.
We’ve had crazed men as presidents before. Definitely flawed ones. Presidents who have made grave mistakes, made decisions based on faulty advice, and who had weak character. But this president is like no other. None as dangerous. Nor who have done so much damage in so little time at home and abroad.
I encourage reading this book. If for no other reason to know the danger we are in. It was a brave book to write and I commend Dr. Trump for it. And judging by its off the chart sales, the people were ready.
IN HISTORICAL FICTION:
I also read The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer this week. It is the story of photojournalist Lee Miller during the time she was involved with artist Man Ray.
If you are interested in 1920s and 30s Paris during the surrealist art and photography movement of that time, it is a fascinating read.