Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib

Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib

IMG_5274Do you remember the YA books you read when you were in middle school? In some ways, I never got over them. In my essay, “Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib,” I wrote about growing up South Asian American—which really meant growing up Gujarati in the 1980s—and I wrote about the books I loved as a child and those I came back to again. These included books in a series like The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and books that were geared specifically for girls: Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Sweet Valley High, Trixie Belden, The Girls of Canby Hall, and the Betsy-Tacy books.

“Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib” appeared in an anthology called Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America (Seal Press, 2004, Ed. Pooja Makhijani). What became “Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib” began as a short story in my MFA thesis in fiction, but what I was really interested in doing was exploring what it was like to grow up Gujarati and Indian American in a predominantly white suburb of Rochester, New York. I sent the original story to writer and editor Pooja Makhijani, who had a call out for submissions to her anthology, Under Her Skin. Pooja was interested in the story (which was entirely autobiographical), and she suggested expanding it. Through the process of revisiting and expanding the story, it became clear to me that this was a different kind of writing—a marriage of both archeology and choreography; both artistic and imaginative—a personal essay—and it grew into one of my first creative nonfiction essays.

This week I spoke to a class at the University of Rochester about “Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib” (PDF in link).  My essay has been part of the reading for this course for the last two years and this will be my fourth time coming in to talk to UR graduate students in the Warner School of Education. I realize now that only some of the YA books I allude to are well-known—often because of re-releases or film versions of the books. Roxane Gay has written about Sweet Valley High; Anne of Green Gables was made into a three-part series in Canada and broadcast over PBS, and Nancy Drew was re-released as series now using first person narration instead of the third-person point of view in the original books. A film adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time, hit the theaters this year.

But the Betsy-Tacy books are not as well-known. Here’s a quick description thanks to Wikipedia:

The Betsy-Tacy books are a series of semi-autobiographical novels by American novelist and short-story writer Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980), which were originally published between 1940 and 1955 by the Thomas Y. Crowell Co. The books are now published by HarperCollins.

Betsy-Tacy and Tib (1941) is the second volume in the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. This story introduces the character of Thelma (Tib) Muller, a German-American girl who becomes friends with Betsy Ray and Tacy Kelly.

The series follows the adventures of heroine Betsy Ray, who is based closely on the author, and her friends and family. The first book, Betsy-Tacy, begins in 1897 on the eve of Betsy’s fifth birthday, and the last book, Betsy’s Wedding, ends in 1917 as the United States prepares to enter the First World War.

I particularly loved Betsy-Tacy and Tib, because of the friendships I remembered from growing up on my street. In all of those books, much as I loved them. I never saw a character who looked like me. From my essay:

In the books I read growing up, there were always words I couldn’t quite imagine. I remember, with a specificity that surprises me, the foreignness of certain colors: kelly green, strawberry blonde…How these series come back to haunt me now, with their sense of ownership over the world, with the ways in which they defined a world…We read these books, but there was no one like us in any of them. Did we think of writing our own? I want to see us. To see the girl I was, the girls we were, back when we lived at home.

Within the “Betsy, Tacy, Sejal, Tib,” essay, I wrote the beginning of an imagined YA book—one that my husband and other friends have suggested I write someday. And I can imagine doing it now—what does it mean to write yourself in a narrative—into a world where you never saw yourself?

The Betsy-Tacy series was set in Mankato, Minnesota and covered the late 1800s into 1917, far away from where and when I grew up but this resonated with me and I wrote “a series about two best friends from the same street who made room for a third. No one felt alone past the second chapter.”

Sejal Shah lived alone with her parents on Pelham Road in western New York State, in a city that had seen better days (“Lion of the West”), that had housed stops on the Underground Railroad….

I did grow up feeling very alone at times, except for books—our middle school was almost entirely white, middle class, suburban at the time, with only one other South Asian American boy in our grade—and he was a close family friend; my mother and his had grown up together in Nairobi. But there were no other girls—and middle school is all about friendships. And of course there were other Indian Americans in the Rochester area. And so I imagined a series about us—about me and my friends who lived in the other towns around Rochester and went to different schools. Here are some of the imagined titles in the essay:

The Gujarati Girls Go to (Hindu Heritage Summer) Camp
The Gujarati Girls Go Skiing 
The Mystery of the Prasaad Plate (A Gujarati Girls Mystery)
The Gujarati Girls Go to Panorama Plaza (to see the latest Molly Ringwald movie—Gujarati Girls Mystery #13)
The Gujarati Girls Get Malaria (also titled The Gujarati Girls Go to India)

My husband and other friends have long suggested I actually write those books—and I want to do that. Because those early books made an impression on me. I loved them and wondered what it would be like to write my way into a book and bring along others who looked like me, but you couldn’t find us in the books in the library.

It reminded me of an essay I quoted from in the introduction to my MFA thesis: Adrienne Rich’s “Invisibility in Academe”—from a talk she gave in 1984 at Scripps College and later published in Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979-1985. I’ve been thinking about this essay in relation to my work right now and about visibility and invisibility:

…whether you are dark-skinned, old, disabled, female, or speak with a different accent or dialect than theirs, when someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing. Yet you know you exist and others like you, that this is a game with mirrors. It takes some strength of soul—and not just individual strength, but collective understanding—to resist this void, this nonbeing, into which you are thrust, and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard. And to make yourself visible, to claim your experience is as real and normative as any other…

And my teachers were wonderful, by and large, but there were moments, there always are—of misunderstanding, and something wounding—and not with teachers, but just by being out in the world—moments with other people—and I wanted to make the life I lived at home and on weekends, with our friends who were more like cousins and the language we spoke, Gujarati, visible. Legible. Normative. Part of the landscape and not even the most interesting part.

***

In Mankato, Minnesota (a few hours away from where I lived in Decorah, Iowa) there is actually a Betsy-Tacy society. And the house I rented in Decorah was owned by J.R. Christenson, who grew up in the Mankato neighborhood where Maud Hart Lovelace lived. My friend Sandhya, who lives in Decorah and also loved the Betsy-Tacy books, and I talk about going to Mankato someday, and I’d love to take that trip with her—driving and talking on our way to visit the neighborhood where these books were set.

In the end, two of my great loves will always be books and friendships.

Good Girls Marry Doctors

AAWW

The New York City book launch for Good Girls Marry Doctors, at The Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW). From left to right: Swati Khurana, Piyali Bhattacharya, me, Jyothi Natarajan.

In 2016, Jyothi Natarajan of The Asian American Writers’ Workshop invited me to moderate the Q&A for the New York City book launch for Piyali Bhattacharya’s Good Girls Marry Doctors—an anthology of writing by contemporary South Asian American women. Piyali asked me to contribute an essay, but between planning a wedding (not to a doctor), helping to care for my grandmother, and teaching full-time, I wasn’t able to synthesize anything in time…at least not something about obedience and rebellion.

Therefore, I was especially glad to be able to take part in the project and its launch in a small way. Readers that evening included Piyali and contributors Swati KhuranaRajpreet HeirJyothi Natarajan, and Ankita Rao.

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop just posted the podcast. Piyali opens the event with a beautiful history of how the anthology came to me. My introduction comes in at about 15:30 and the Q&A happens after the contributors read their essays. It’s worth listening to the whole program. I loved hearing these essays again. And it’s the first time I’ve been on a podcast!

AAWW audience

Here are various links to the podcast, and I hope you’ll take a listen:

TuneIn Radio: http://tun.in/piGyv
GoodGirlsLaunch

 

 

2017 Year-in-Review

I’ve listed some links below to writing I published in 2017. The essay in The Rumpus and the piece in Conjunctions meant the most to me. Both felt risky to send out.

BeingBodies

 

Nonfiction:

“Women at Work (Letter to Myself at Twenty-Six)” —On sexual harassment in my MFA program. In The Rumpus (mine is the second essay, but please read them all).

“From a Distance” — Some thoughts on wedding planning and the first year of marriage. In Rochester Magazine (scroll to second essay.)

“The World Is Full of Paper. Write to Me.” —A remembrance about my former professor, the Kashmiri American poet, Agha Shahid Ali. In Mad Heart Be Brave: Essays on the Poetry of Agha Shahid Ali (Ed. Kazim Ali, University of Michigan Press). Ordering information here. An earlier version of the essay can be found online here.

Prose (hybrid):

“Skeleton, Rock, Shell”On trauma narratives & girls. In Conjunctions.

Fiction:

“The Girl with Two Brothers” —More about the lives of girls & women. In Aster(ix).

“Dicot, Monocot”   Followed by a short essay—“The Story Behind the Story.” In Redux.

Essays I recommend by Other People:

Gail Hosking’s “A Conversation on Leaving the University: Getting to the Shore with One Old Paddle and One New One I Haven’t Found Yet.” In Assay.

Rebecca Traister’s “The Moment Isn’t Really (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work.” In New York Magazine.

 

Me Too; You, Too

So, this week I wrote my first reader comment in The New York Times in response to a ridiculous comment on Roxane Gay’s Op-Ed, “Dear Men: It’s You, Too.”  This is the beginning of her essay—with the reader comments below. R made this merge of two screenshots his Instagram pic of the day on 10/19/17, and I’m reposting it here.

 

GLRZ8590Besides reading Gay’s Op-Ed, this week, I also read a thoughtful column in The Kenyon Review Blog as I spent way too much time on the internet, trying to make some sense of these last two weeks—all the stories in the NYT about Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment and rape. And then so many other accounts from so many women. And then Twitter.

I had brought with me to this residency both stories (my fiction manuscript) and essays (nonfiction manuscript) to revisit and revise. I started to think about why I had not written about some experiences in nonfiction, and had only written about those subjects obliquely, in fiction. Caroline Hagood‘s column, “Me Too and the Trauma Narrative,” got to the heart of this for me:

The logic of trauma is epic and for me it has always seemed to demand a certain encoding to guard safety. Maybe this is why I’m not a memoirist. I never like to talk about what happened to me head-on.

It’s something I can only show you sideways, tilted at an angle that makes it hard to identify but familiar still. I can only fictionalize all through the night and then get on the subway to my morning life….

Read the rest of Hagood’s essay in The Kenyon Review Blog here.  

I served as biweekly columnist for the The Kenyon Review in 2016, and one of my columns also dealt with the subject of trauma. I am interested in beginning to tackle some of what I’ve written about in fiction perhaps now in nonfiction. This is new ground for me. But if not now, then when?***

***Update: I published this short essay about grad school in The Rumpus in November (scroll to second piece). #metoo

Making Time

IMG_4267

Where I am this month: the Anderson Center at Tower View, an artist residency in Red Wing, Minnesota. I’m writing and revising, and trying to get out of my way to work.

So here’s something my friend Geeta wrote recently about time, grief, and writing that resonated with me:

One day, around the time my parents died, I finally understood that time isn’t an infinite, renewable resource. After the grief, came the despair. I added up all the wasted hours. So many, with people I didn’t like doing things I didn’t care about. Of course, I couldn’t actually add up all my wasted hours because I never kept track of them. This was a period when I didn’t keep a journal or a schedule on paper. Even when I began writing seriously, I paid little attention to how I used my time. I measured my progress by how many pages I filled, how many drafts I wrote, publications. This last item seems a little insane now because rejections for my stories far outnumbered acceptances (and still do)…

I don’t want to live the rest of my life regretting things. You don’t either. Geeta makes a good case for how to spend your time on what counts (if writing deeply and daily counts to you). You can read the rest of her essay / blog post here

2017 Summer Roundup

2017 Summer Roundup

This summer careened by, dizzy from travel (Ohio three times; Mexico; Washington, D.C.; Rhode Island; Pittsburgh) and some enormous changes. My beloved grandmother passed on July 31. Her absence is palpable. I am still trying to adjust to the fact that I can’t eat dinner next to her or braid her hair for her (as she used to do for me when I was young); or bring her a jasmine flower from my plant (she loved the fragrance and would lift the tiny blossom to her face, close her eyes, breathe in, and smile); or just sit with her and talk and laugh. I used to see her most days. My parents’ house feels empty now.

IMG_9291I wrote a poem about her when I was sixteen, first published in my high school literary magazine, then in Hanging Loose magazine, and finally reprinted in the Hanging Loose Press anthology, Bullseye: Outstanding High School Writers. R. posted this photo of my poem on Instagram.

Now, R and I are packing up to move from our first apartment to our first home. We bought a house—I’ll finally have room (I hope) for all of my books.

In between house hunting and later-stage hospice, I taught a seven-week creative nonfiction class, which included reading and writing in response to Eula Biss’ Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays. It feels important to be writing about race, place, responsibility, privilege, ambivalence, what we love, what we struggle with, what we hope will change about our country, and how we are part of all of it. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do.

Next on my list to read, re-read, and teach: essays by James Baldwin and Audre Lorde. What are you reading to help you get through this particular time? Please comment and let me know.

Here’s my writing-related news update—

Conjunctions.jpg

Writing:

My story-essay, “Skeleton, Rock, Shell,” will be published in Conjunctions 69: Being Bodies (Fall / Nov 2017). R took the screenshot of the table of contents (in-progress) above. Yes—that’s Rick Moody and Anne Waldman in the same issue (!!!). I love Conjunctions, and have been published by them online, but this will be my first time in their print journal.

My story collection, How to Make Your Mother Cry, was selected by Paul Yoon as a finalist for the 2017 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction from Sarabande Books. Sarabande will publish the winner of the prize, Tiny Heroes, Tiny Villains, by Robert Yune.

My essay collection, Things People Say, was named a finalist for the 2017 Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Essay Collection Competition, selected by Renee Gladman. More info in the link.

Readings, Festivals, & NYFA:

IMG_3157

Some of the audience saying hey. Those are the other fellows smiling at me in the first row.

In June, I was a Peter Taylor Fellow at the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshops. Here’s a photo from the fellows’ reading, where I shared my essay about a former teacher, the poet Agha Shahid Ali. When I remember to, I like to take photos of the audience. This was a great one.

Reading at The Library of Congress, July 29, 2017

Reading at The Library of Congress, July 29, 2017 (photo credit: Kundiman)


July: I also read the essay (published this past April in Mad Heart Be Brave: Essays on the Poetry of Agha Shahid Ali, edited by Kazim Ali, University of Michigan Press) at the Library of Congress, for the Smithsonian Asian American Literature Festival, with Karen Tei Yamashita and Kundiman Fellows Vt Hung and Mark Keats.

It felt significant to read in our nation’s capital at the Library of Congress, as an Asian American writer myself in front of an audience of mostly other Asian American writers, scholars, poets, and readers. Several people came up to me afterward or emailed me to say that they were moved by the essay and reading. I felt that way about the events I attended, too.

To buy a copy (and/or ask your library to buy a copy) of Mad Heart Be Brave, head over here.

IMG_3812In August, I took part in the NYFA (the New York Foundation for the Arts)  2017 Artist-as-Entrepreneur Bootcamp. Lots to learn about as I gear up to begin offering private writing workshops and mentoring in 2018. If you are a writer or artist in New York State, I recommend applying to this program, which is offered several times a year around the state—the next one is in Albany.

Thanks to Brooklyn-based writer Roohi Choudhri, who told me about the bootcamp. She teaches privately and has a terrific set of in-person and online offerings for writers. Check out her website here.

Other Nice Stuff:

Every once in a while I Google my name to see what the internet rolls back at me. I found this mention on a website library discussion board called LibraryThing. Here is what one user posted about writers of South Asian origin:

6 cindydavid4: Though I’m a big reader of Indian-American writers (or, more broadly, American writers of South Asian origin), and I’ve read some [Chitra Banerjee] Divakaruni, I’m not a fan of her work. I can’t pinpoint why exactly because I haven’t spent enough time thinking it through. I only know that, after forcing myself to get to the end of her collection of stories Arranged Marriage: Stories, I have not picked up another of her books.

These days, the most interesting writing by Indian-American (or writers of South Asian origin) women writers I am liking are: Nina McConigleyTanwi Nandini IslamTahmima AnamMira JacobSejal ShahTania JamesJade Sharma, and more.

With male writers of South Asian origin, these are most interesting to me these days: Amitava GhoshAkhil SharmaVikram Chandra — whose Sacred Games is going to be a Netflix series, Kanishk TharoorKaran MahajanAnuk ArudpragasamSunil Yapa, et al.

I’m flattered to be in such company. The other folks have books. I’m working on it.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Yes, Even You Can Write a Book Review!

One of the great joys of my life in the last year has been teaching a year-long advanced creative nonfiction workshop. This guest post is from my student, Nadia Ghent, a gifted writer and former professional violinist, who reviewed Geeta Kothari’s short story collection, I Brake for Moose. My first and only book review took months to write. Really, it was kind of torturous. I didn’t know where to start, and how to be critical and and creative—I thought I had to sound smart, speak the jargon like my friends who are academics. But in good writing, you also have to sound like you.

There’s much to learn in reading about Nadia’s process, and *seeing* the work that goes deep reading and writing and reviewing.

***

Yes, even you can review a book!

Nadia Ghent

IMG_1342I think it was somewhere around the fifth or sixth layer of scribbled Post-it notes on top of each already note-strewn page in the composition book I’d bought especially for writing down every single impression I had while preparing to review Geeta Kothari’s short story collection, I Brake for Moose and Other Stories, that I started to doubt my ability to write even one coherent sentence about this book.  Not that there wasn’t anything to write about—Kothari’s eleven stories are so rich with characters and the evocative details of their lives that I found myself writing down not just sentences, but also whole paragraphs of the text in my notebook.

I was struck with the immediacy of her writing, and the way each story takes the reader directly into the world of the characters in language that is clear and evocative. And also with the way every single one of these eleven short stories relates to our own world—Kothari’s characters transcend their fictional enclosure between the covers of the book, as if they were people in real life, people we would know.

Somehow I had agreed to write a review of I Brake for Moose and Other Stories for the online journal Necessary Fiction, and the enormity of the task—to do Kothari’s collection justice in even the most modest way—seemed beyond me. I also have to confess that this would be my first “real” review, since up to now my entire experience with being a reviewer of any sort had been limited to a collaborative book-reading blog that I’d participated in for the past two years. This blog was very informal, totally subjective, and the posts were mostly fun and easy to write.  The review for Necessary Fiction was going to be a completely different experience: objectivity would be paramount, and I would need to develop some kind of a critical stance.  I was going to have to write a lot more than, “What a great book. I really liked it,” and I had one thousand words in which to find something to say.

And so I began the only way I knew how—I read the book.  I read it as I would any other book, sprawled on the sofa, or in bed, or while eating lunch, and I read completely for pleasure, without the notion that I was going to have to say something that made sense or make some kind pronouncement of my fledgling critical opinion.  I am not an academic, and I’ve only recently returned to writing.  I used to be a violinist. The last paper I wrote in graduate school was on Beethoven’s string quartets, and that was in the previous century. But I have always been a reader, and I knew that if I could find the way Kothari’s book spoke to me as a reader, I would be able to find a way to write about it.

IMG_1343After the first reading, I got to work. I wrote down the basics of each story in my notebook: characters, setting, conflict, first impressions. But what really drew me in was Kothari’s language.  This is when I started writing down chunks of the text that resonated with me. I read each story a second, third, fourth, and even fifth time, becoming slightly obsessed with how much more each re-reading brought into focus– hence, the multiple layers of Post-it notes—while also beginning to understand the themes and subtle points of connection between each story.  I began to develop enough ideas about the book to write 10,000 words, not 1,000. The problem was that there was so much to write about in each story.  And the directions for reviewing from Necessary Fiction were clear—1,000 words was a strict limit. No indulgence in writing about every emotionally resonant detail.

I started reading previous reviews in Necessary Fiction, paying special attention to reviews of short story collections. I wanted to figure out how to handle multiple story lines and characters in one review, and how much detail a reviewer would go into in discussing each individual story. And I had stumbled into the first rule of reviewing: read the reviews already published in the journal you want to submit to. Suddenly I became aware of how many opinions about things—books, movies, restaurants, music, clothing, shoes, dog kennels, grass seed—that came pouring out of the media I engaged in every day. And that I mostly ignored. I began to feel totally overwhelmed. How was I going to figure out what was important enough to write?

The only solution was to start writing. But because I actually didn’t know what to start with, I made a list of verbs as a warm-up exercise: craft, follow, fracture, mirror, reflect, create, temper, contend, and as many others as I could think of.  My first day of actual writing consisted of listing verbs. I thought that if I could think of what the writing was doing—as if the writing were a person engaged in some kind of action—I would be able to convey how this action reveals the ideas Geeta Kothari engages with in the stories, and how successful she had been. This also began to fix in my mind a specific place to start: verbs as the motor in constructing sentences and creating structure. Instead of an amorphous sense of what I wanted to write about (everything!), I had a way to bring motion to my own ideas. Next, I grouped the stories into those that shared themes, and I decided to focus on three of them in greater depth, while saving room to mention all the others at least in passing.  And then I re-read all my notes, added yet another layer of Post-its, and finally sat before the blinking cursor and the blank screen. I dug in.

Of course the first draft was terrible. Most of this awful initial attempt consisted of long quotes with just a few of my own sentences woven in to hold it all together, which they barely did. I thought that the language of these stories was so incredible that the review should consist mainly of the text, while what I had to say needed to retreat into the background. It was like baking chocolate chip cookies but leaving out all the flour because you just wanted to eat the chocolate.

This was not the best approach.  Sejal read this draft and made some gentle but firm suggestions that helped me think more deeply so that I could really begin to write and not just reproduce the text. Or actually hide behind the text—it was going to take some courage and resolution to put my words first. I took out most of the quotes, and found that this opened up space for what I needed to write. And that I actually had something to say.

IMG_1344After a few more drafts, I put the review down for several weeks and worked on other projects. I felt as if there was still more I needed to do, but that time and distance were needed even more. And I continued to think about the stories as I walked the dog, went for a run, read other books.  Points of connection between the stories and larger themes that I had missed started to become clear. It was as if the stories were talking to each other in my imagination even while I was doing other things.

As the deadline approached, I returned to what I had, re-wrote it again with these new thoughts, changed the middle and the end, sent it to another friend to read, wrote some more, ever mindful of the fluctuating word count. And then finally, two days before it was due, when there wasn’t anything else that still bothered me, I decided that the review was ready. I sent it to the editor early mostly because I was worried that a monumental snowstorm predicted for the day of the deadline would affect my Internet service (it did not). But also because two more days would not have made it any more finished.  And amazingly, it really was ready: when the editor sent the review back with her comments a few weeks later, she had made only minor punctuation edits—her precise and consistent red marks throughout the review might finally cure me of my terrible habit of using two spaces between sentences. The review itself didn’t need any revision, and after I fixed the spacing issue, the editor scheduled it for publication

What I learned from this effort is how important it is not to think that we can’t write something worthwhile about a work of art, that somehow only super- qualified people get to have a voice, to put forth an opinion, or to write about literary and real-life themes that affect all of us in different ways.  I learned that it is incredibly important to advocate for writing that speaks to us, even if we are not academics or book critics or even published authors, and that writing about compelling fiction like Kothari’s is part of what we need to do as literary citizens in this world. It’s difficult, though, and reviewing takes many, many times longer than reading.

But how incredible it is to get into the inner workings of these stories, to enter the world, if only through the imagination, that Geeta Kothari has created.  And then to have a chance to think even more deeply about these stories through the process of writing about them. I hope that more people will read I Brake for Moose and Other Stories, and that the review I spent many weeks struggling over will contribute to others feeling drawn to Geeta Kothari’s stunning collection of stories.  Then my effort will have been entirely worth it.

None of this would have happened without Sejal and her incredibly generous and transcendent teaching. Thank you, Sejal, for suggesting I just give it a try, and for always asking for something better (and not giving up on me after that terrible first draft!) I don’t think I would have thought of writing a review on my own, and I certainly didn’t believe that I could actually do it. But I made it through, thanks to Sejal’s encouragement and an entire pack of Post-it notes, and now I feel as if I might just have enough confidence to write another review sometime soon.