Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver

Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays by Minnie Driver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A “memoir in essays” is an interesting thing because it’s always going to be more selective than the – already selective – form of the autobiography. It’s a challenge to set for yourself and it’s one that Driver answers very well. Her essays pick out key moments in her life; the birth of her son, a rave in a farmer’s field, her first visit to the US, and are frank and funny and often very beautifully written. There’s a few moments where I think an editor might have pulled a few sentences back but equally, there’s interest in seeing them go off and say something very particular. Driver has a voice and she’s ready here to use it. Fearless too, I think, but paradoxically often very private. She’s very precise in what she reveals here and it’s elegantly done stuff.

Her final essay moved me to tears. It’s really one of the standout pieces in the book, along with the one where she writes about the birth of her son. Driver is very good at seeing the moment in the world and giving you everything that happens there, within it. She is also very good at capturing the essence of people and giving you that in a very precise and economical style. She’s a good writer, she really is.

I did have some issues with how this book is presented though. It’s a little too fond of the the double line break and the big white space between a paragraph. I get the stylistic reasoning behind these and indeed, the aesthetic decisions, but equally it feels a little bit like unnecessary padding. This is a book that doesn’t need that artifice and an extra essay would have helped fill up this space a little bit. Plus it would have helped to fill in a few of the blanks that the reader is left with.

(a selective form, inevitably, leaves blanks, and I don’t know if they should have attention drawn so firmly to them).

Also, I don’t think I shall ever look at scrambled eggs again in the same way. I shall not explain further about this because spoilers, but I am increasingly convinced of the connections between love and cooking and food and how they are all so intimately wed to the other.

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2 thoughts on “Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver

  1. I’ve seen other positive reviews (and despite your caveats about presentation this is a positive assessment) and does suggest I might keep an eye out for it, especially when next in a library.

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