Tag Archives: William Saroyan

My Name is Aram – Review

My Name is Aram by William Saroyan

Age: 8th – Adult

My Name is Aram is a semi-fictional account of William Saroyan’s life from 1915 to 1925 in Fresno, California, told in fourteen short chapters, each discussing a different event or experience. Aram Garoghlanian is a curious young boy, and his curiosity often leads him straight to trouble. We are introduced to his Armenian family, his friends and those that live in the same small-town.

https://i0.wp.com/www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n48/n243862.jpgThe stories are short, simple and each one carries a special message or lesson learned by Aram. His book teaches the simple morals of understanding, not stealing, loyalty and the joys of learning. Aram is an adorable boy, with a mind full of questions and a routine of seeking out new experiences and facing the consequences. I want to compare Saroyan’s work to Steinbeck. As contemporaries in poverty stricken farmlands in California, they both have a similar pool of experiences to share. While both write about small town life of the immigrant worker, Saroyan’s work is more upbeat than Steinbeck’s because Sarayan can make fun of himself in his work.

Saroyan touches upon many issues within each of his stories. He addresses religion in the story of the two boys paid to sing in a Presbyterian Choir even though they are Catholic.  He discusses friendship in nearly all of his chapters, but the most powerful chapter is the final one, “The Poor and Burning Arab” where Aram learns about the value of words, and when silence is sometimes more appropriate than wasted words. He discusses compassion and understanding in the chapter “The Three Swimmers and the Educated Grocer”, which incidentally has my favorite line in the book.

Well, I’ll be harrowed, cultivated, pruned, gathered into a pile, burned, picked off a tree, and let me see, what else? Thrown into a box, cut off a vine and eaten grape by grape by a girl in her teens. (The Three Swimmers and the Educated Grocer)

A short book, this is a quick and fun read, but full of insight and humor into the simple activities in our daily lives.

My Name is Aram
by William Saroyan
Dell Publishing, 1937
156 pages

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Find this book at your local library

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I know I’m not the only person that has a set of books that you keep around because you love, adore and want to read and reread for the rest of your life. Some books are wonderful, but like fads, their appeal wans after time. Some books just hit so close to home that no matter what happens, that book will always be a part of your life.

I read much more as a minor than I did once I got to college and lost a good chunk of my free time. Most of my favorite books are from my childhood, but I was an advanced reader. I read Interview with the Vampire when I was 11 because my parents wouldn’t let me watch the movie. I couldn’t get into the rest of Anne Rice’s books. The rest of the books seemed like mockaries of the Interview with the Vampire, so I after Queen of the Damned I stopped reading the rest of the books in the series.

My favorite Children’s book:

Most people would expect me to say Harry Potter, but alas, this topic goes to a children’s book of my childhood. The Princess and the Goblin. I read this book when I was in 4th grade, and it was such a wonderful little fairy tale, written so sarcastically by George MacDonald originally published in 1872. I may have read it at least 5 times between the ages of 7-10. This book was pretty influential in my life, as most of the books I went on to read had a fair amount of sarcasm and adult humor to it. I didn’t watch Sesame Street growing up. I did watch a few cartoons, but mostly I was raised by talk shows and soap operas (All My Children), and YA books.

Favorite Love Story:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffengger. This book is just amazing. The main character is a librarian in Chicago with a genetic disease that allows him to time travel, although not voluntarily. Every time he travels, he shows up somewhere naked and is constantly struggling to survive. To survive against natural elements, against society, even against himself. Then only things that keep him stationary are his love for Claire, a girl he’s known since her childhood when he would go back in time, and running. I could gush about this book forever. I read it at a time when my boyfriend and I had just started a long distance relationship, and I could relate to the characters. Seeing your loved one in little spurts of time, not sure when you would see them again, and trying to make the best and most of each visit. I’m very nervous about the movie version of this book. I can only hope it does justice to the book.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Almost anything by Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin’s Saga of Fire and Ice series. Masters in their own rights, able to create detailed worlds that rival Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I can’t pick out specific books to talk about with Neil Gaiman, because each thing he has written and published is so different from the rest of his work. He has his foot in nearly every field of creativity except for music. My favorites include American Gods and Neverwhere (Neverwhere was the first Gaiman book I read).  Stardust I am not particularly fond of, but Anansi Boys is hilarious.

William Saroyan.

A very popular Armenian-American author that is close to my heart because popular Armenian anything is so hard to find outside of Glendale, CA. His book The Human Comedy is very much like Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat, but deals with rural life in Fresno, CA. It tells the story of two brothers in Fresno and their lives. That sentence sounds so bland. But its a story about family and optimism and loyalty.