Beirut I Love You: A Memoir by Zena El Khalil

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Jill's take on Beirut I Love You: A Memoir by Zena El Khalil

I'm not quite sure what mood we were in when we bought Beirut I love you:A Memoir but I'm sort of glad we did?. I suspect the looming possibility of not having any books in our possession and some time to rest in Bali influenced this decision, but other than that, I'm just not sure why we decided this book was for us.

To be fair, I liked the book. I'm just not sure why exactly. I had no idea who Zena El Khalil was before buying the book so it wasn't that I was compelled to read her memoir because I knew anything about her. Generally speaking, I'm not that into memoirs, but I did really enjoy the way this one was written. It's more like reading a novel than a memoir. I enjoyed how Khalil sprinkled in political, cultural and sexual thoughts and ideas and experiences throughout the book. I enjoyed the glimpses into life in Beirut for this woman and her friends. I guess I was just left with a "and so..." sort of thought at the end.

I have wanted to go to Beirut for as long as I remember but war and strife has always made it seem out of reach for me. Khalil's writing style made me feel like I was right there with her and part of the good and bad of Beirut. I can truly say I've never had a relationship with a place quite like hers with Beirut, but it was so interesting to hear someone speak of a city the way Khalil does. It seemed so alive and as if it was breathing the inhabitants and requiring so much of their dedication to continue its existence. There's strife for sure, but so much life as well. A vibrancy that I've been drawn too and that the memoir only continued to fuel.

Maybe someday I will get to Beirut, but until then, I am glad I read this memoir. It transported me to a time and place I knew next to nothing about. Do I think Beirut I Love You is a must read? No, but I do think it's worth your time if you want to know more about this intriguing place.

Zac's take on Beirut I Love You: A Memoir by Zena El Khalil

I feel like Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel when writing these book reviews. Maybe that’s because Jill always finishes writing first and I leave so much time between the reading and the review that I’m just like: What she said.

Or maybe it’s because when I read what she wrote, I’m also thinking. Yes. Exactly. You are exactly right.

Who ever does know why one picks up a book. There is a finite amount of time in making that decision. You look at the cover, you read the back, you read the inner flap if there is one. You read the first few pages and then that’s it.

So with Zena El Khalil, there was just this freshness in the writing. There was a manic energy and life to it, that it didn’t really matter if I had never heard of her before, or had never been to Beirut. It was just compelling.

Parts of it read like a diary or a journal and parts would have been enhanced by a prior knowledge of the author. I was left wondering why and who cares, but that didn’t detract from reading it. So if you are interested in fresh female voices, go for it. If you are interested in Beirut, by all means, this is your book. It only made me want to go there more.

I can’t think Beirut could ask for a better ambassador than Zena El Khalil.