Named a 2007 Book to Remember by the New York Public Library
“On one level, Grammar Lessons is a vivid, compelling meditation on traveling abroad. On another, the author, Michele Morano, uses her travel experience—the exhilarations and dislocations, the unbidden surprises and disappointments—as a lens through which she examines more deeply what it means to be human.”—Michael Steinberg, founding editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction and author of Still Pitching
In the thirteen personal essays in Grammar Lessons, Michele Morano connects the rules of grammar to the stories we tell to help us understand our worlds. Living and traveling in Spain during a year of teaching English to university students, she learned to translate and interpret her past and present worlds—to study the surprising moments of communication—as a way to make sense of language and meaning, longing and memory.
Morano focuses first on her year of living in Oviedo, in the early 1990s, a time spent immersing herself in a new culture and language while working through the relationship she had left behind with an emotionally dependent and suicidal man. Next, after subsequent trips to Spain, she explores the ways that travel sparks us to reconsider our personal histories in the context of larger historical legacies. Finally, she turns to the aftereffects of travel, to the constant negotiations involved in retelling and understanding the stories of our lives. Throughout she details one woman’s journey through vocabulary and verb tense toward a greater sense of her place in the world.
Grammar Lessons illustrates the difficulty and delight, humor and humility of living in a new language and of carrying that pivotal experience forward. Michele Morano’s beautifully constructed essays reveal the many grammars and many voices that we collect, and learn from, as we travel.