I'm giving a talk on All the Fishes Come Home to Roost at the Encinitas Library tomorrow night at 6:30. It's free.

Encinitas Library Community Room
540 Cornish Dr. • Encinitas • (760) 753-7376

Sorry for the extremely late notice.
I'm giving a talk on All the Fishes Come Home to Roost at the Encinitas Library tomorrow night at 6:30. It's free.

Encinitas Library Community Room
540 Cornish Dr. • Encinitas • (760) 753-7376

Sorry for the extremely late notice.
I am selling beautiful, first-edition, mint condition, hardcover copies of my memoir, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: an American Misfit in India, for $12 – fifty percent off the original cover price! If you like, I will autograph yours.

It’s the true story of how I was raised by American weirdos in India. If you recall the abominable Eat Pray Love, imagine what it might have been like if Elizabeth Gilbert had had a prematurely cynical child whom she’d dragged along with her, and if that child had written her own and much more sarcastic account of the trip.

If you want one, please Paypal $ 12 plus $ 4.50 (within the USA) for shipping/packaging/Paypal costs by hitting the button, or going to Paypal and sending it to Rphoenix2 at hotmail dot com. Please include your mailing address and any special requests, such as autographing. If you’re not in the USA, please email me with your location and I’ll figure out the shipping costs. If you don’t use Paypal, email me and we’ll work something out.








Warning: This book was written about six years ago, which was before I got my consciousness raised about race issues, and has some offensive bits, for which I apologize. (Such as inappropriate comparisons of Indian things to not-really-similar Western or other Asian things.) Some matters related to India were over-simplified, over-generalized, or (as many readers emailed to inform me, complete with corrected Marathi) outright wrong, for which I also apologize. And it’s all about a white girl not having a good time in India, which I don’t apologize for since that’s inherent in the story being about me and my real life, but which many people have already read quite enough about. Also, be aware that there are disturbing scenes of child abuse.

There’s a lot that I like about the book – hey, it’s my baby, of course I love my baby – and it’s as honest about my own experiences as I could make it. It’s nowhere near as depressing as it could have been – possibly not depressing at all - and many people have told me it often made them laugh aloud. (Er, not during the child abuse parts. I hope.) If you liked my series of posts on PTSD, the book is sort of their prequel. And I could use the cash. But I don’t want anyone to buy it if it’s going to make them feel like they’ve been kicked in the face, hence the warnings.

As I said, the book isn’t really about India, it’s about me; and yet I would be a different me if I hadn’t spent my childhood there.

None of my genetic inheritance is Indian, I can’t speak any of the languages, and I don’t have the experiences in America that an Indian would. I am not Indian, and I have never thought I was. But I can read some of the languages, though not fast or well; I grew up celebrating Holi and Raksha Bandhan, not Passover and the Fourth of July; the only place on Earth I’ve ever known well enough to walk for hours blindfolded and name every landmark, every individual tree with a brush of my hand is the ashram in Ahmednagar; and while I don’t have a single drop of Indian blood in me (metaphorically) I shed quite a bit of my own on Indian soil (literally).

I don’t think this gives me any sort of claim on the country. But I do feel like the country has a claim on me.

As with America, the country with which I do have a relationship of blood and birth, I am full of complicated mixed feelings. I can’t stand my hometown of Ahmednagar (and yet I do think of it as my hometown) but any outsider who disses the entire country to me will face an avalanche of eloquent hostility. And then, halfway through some sentence like, “Have you ever actually been there?” I remember that I’m an outsider too…

That got a bit away from my sales pitch. (I think it was inspired by contemplating Passover, actually.) But if you do want a copy of the book, please email or Paypal me as noted above.








I have locked down comments to avoid a flood of “A sensitive person like you could not possibly write anything offensive to anyone,” which as we all know never ends well. I’d also prefer it if this wasn’t linked in the RaceFail round-ups - all else aside, the discussion is not about me, and this post is explicitly all about me - though I realize that’s not my call to make.
I am selling beautiful, first-edition, mint condition, hardcover copies of my memoir, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: an American Misfit in India, for $12 – fifty percent off the original cover price! If you like, I will autograph yours.

It’s the true story of how I was raised by American weirdos in India. If you recall the abominable Eat Pray Love, imagine what it might have been like if Elizabeth Gilbert had had a prematurely cynical child whom she’d dragged along with her, and if that child had written her own and much more sarcastic account of the trip.

If you want one, please Paypal $ 12 plus $ 4.50 (within the USA) for shipping/packaging/Paypal costs by hitting the button, or going to Paypal and sending it to Rphoenix2 at gmail dot com. Please include your mailing address and any special requests, such as autographing. If you’re not in the USA, please email me with your location and I’ll figure out the shipping costs. If you don’t use Paypal, email me and we’ll work something out.








Warning: This book was written about six years ago, which was before I got my consciousness raised about race issues, and has some offensive bits, for which I apologize. (Such as inappropriate comparisons of Indian things to not-really-similar Western or other Asian things.) Some matters related to India were over-simplified, over-generalized, or (as many readers emailed to inform me, complete with corrected Marathi) outright wrong, for which I also apologize. And it’s all about a white girl not having a good time in India, which I don’t apologize for since that’s inherent in the story being about me and my real life, but which many people have already read quite enough about. Also, be aware that there are disturbing scenes of child abuse.

There’s a lot that I like about the book – hey, it’s my baby, of course I love my baby – and it’s as honest about my own experiences as I could make it. It’s nowhere near as depressing as it could have been – possibly not depressing at all - and many people have told me it often made them laugh aloud. (Er, not during the child abuse parts. I hope.) If you liked my series of posts on PTSD, the book is sort of their prequel. And I could use the cash. But I don’t want anyone to buy it if it’s going to make them feel like they’ve been kicked in the face, hence the warnings.

As I said, the book isn’t really about India, it’s about me; and yet I would be a different me if I hadn’t spent my childhood there.

None of my genetic inheritance is Indian, I can’t speak any of the languages, and I don’t have the experiences in America that an Indian would. I am not Indian, and I have never thought I was. But I can read some of the languages, though not fast or well; I grew up celebrating Holi and Raksha Bandhan, not Passover and the Fourth of July; the only place on Earth I’ve ever known well enough to walk for hours blindfolded and name every landmark, every individual tree with a brush of my hand is the ashram in Ahmednagar; and while I don’t have a single drop of Indian blood in me (metaphorically) I shed quite a bit of my own on Indian soil (literally).

I don’t think this gives me any sort of claim on the country. But I do feel like the country has a claim on me.

As with America, the country with which I do have a relationship of blood and birth, I am full of complicated mixed feelings. I can’t stand my hometown of Ahmednagar (and yet I do think of it as my hometown) but any outsider who disses the entire country to me will face an avalanche of eloquent hostility. And then, halfway through some sentence like, “Have you ever actually been there?” I remember that I’m an outsider too…

That got a bit away from my sales pitch. (I think it was inspired by contemplating Passover, actually.) But if you do want a copy of the book, please email or Paypal me as noted above.








I have locked down comments to avoid a flood of “A sensitive person like you could not possibly write anything offensive to anyone,” which as we all know never ends well. I’d also prefer it if this wasn’t linked in the RaceFail round-ups - all else aside, the discussion is not about me, and this post is explicitly all about me - though I realize that’s not my call to make.
I just got tipped off that the Wikipedia edit war over whether or not my book should be mentioned in the extremely worshipful entry on Meher Baba, which is fiercely policed by Baba-lovers, has re-ignited. Page down to "Rachel Brown's book":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Meher_Baba
I just got tipped off that the Wikipedia edit war over whether or not my book should be mentioned in the extremely worshipful entry on Meher Baba, which is fiercely policed by Baba-lovers, has re-ignited. Page down to "Rachel Brown's book":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Meher_Baba
Two fake memoirs were outed over the weekend, one by a white woman who claimed to have been an American Indian drug dealer, and one by a gentile woman who claimed to have been a Jewish girl whose parents died in the Holocaust and who fled the Nazis and fetched up with one of the last surviving European wolf packs. Both also lied about their names, and provided vomitously self-serving statements about how they did it because they wanted to “give voices to the voiceless” (I think she meant “steal voices from the voiceless”) and “I always felt like I was Jewish” (then convert!) I am not going to get into how completely despicable, not to mention fraudulent, it is to lay claim to the real sufferings of people who were victims of attempted genocide and continue to suffer today. That needs no elaboration.

What caught my attention first was that the fake Holocaust memoir had been optioned by producers I used to work with, who thought it would make a great movie. I never read it, as, like many Jews, I had read and viewed a great deal of material on the Holocaust, and was at that time completely burned out on Holocaust stories. I realize how completely ridiculous and obviously false the wolf story seems in retrospect. But at the time, the reason it never occurred to us that it was fake was that we'd all heard unbelievable-sounding Holocaust stories that were completely factual. For a Jewish child to have survived the Holocaust required such a crazy collection of freakish good luck, unlikely coincidences, flukes of nature, last-minute saves, and people acting with astonishing courage and kindness—or astonishing cruelty and sadism that almost miraculously worked out in the survivor’s favor— that all of their stories were jaw-droppingly unlikely. Misha's story just didn't seem implausible in that context.

That brings me to the reason why I wrote a memoir, All the Fishes Come Home To Roost: an American Misfit in India, rather than an autobiographical novel. (sartorias asked about this in her very flattering post, thank you Sherwood, which discusses my book and my party trick of being able to recite back conversations word-for-word.) I actually did write some autobiographical plays. They all had the same problems, one of which was that they seemed implausible. The true story of my childhood was so weird, and featured so many bizarre characters acting in unlikely ways, not to mention a deus ex machina conclusion, that it didn’t work very well as fiction. This is not a criticism of fiction, any more than it would be to say that a poem doesn’t make a very good screenplay.

But even as memoir, my story seemed hard to believe. So I decided to tackle this problem head-on. In the first chapter (which you can read online here), my parents and I nearly get killed when we hire a man who doesn’t know how to drive and can’t see over the steering wheel to drive us up a mountain. I chose this as a starting point because it’s a funny story with dark undertones and so gives you a sample of the tone of the whole book, and shows the main characters all acting in characteristic ways.

But when I asked my parents about how they remembered that moment, I realized that there was another good reason to put that story first. I recalled that the reason the driver couldn’t see over the steering wheel was that it was a full-size Jeep and he was a dwarf. My mother, however, said that he was just a short guy in a big vehicle. My father insisted that the problem was that he was a twelve-year-old boy. I wrote all their explanations into the story, and let the readers decide for themselves. By doing that, I made the point that my memory might not be 100% correct, but I had corroboration for the main points, and I would be up-front about anything I wasn’t sure about.

The larger question is “Why write a memoir at all?” But one could as easily ask, “Why fictionalize the truth at all?”

We tell stories because there are stories we want to tell. Autobiographical fiction is written because people want to improve the story, don’t trust their memories, prefer that form, think that form is in style, they want to spare other people’s feelings, they think essential parts of the true story are private, and many other reasons besides. Memoirs are written because people want to blow the whistle, are tired of keeping secrets, prefer that form, think that form is in style, have a story that makes more sense that way, and many other reasons besides.

Fiction which is not emotionally honest is artistically bankrupt. Memoir which is not factually honest is morally bankrupt. It is a writer’s moral and artistic obligation to tell the truth in the manner that is appropriate to the story they wish to tell.
Two fake memoirs were outed over the weekend, one by a white woman who claimed to have been an American Indian drug dealer, and one by a gentile woman who claimed to have been a Jewish girl whose parents died in the Holocaust and who fled the Nazis and fetched up with one of the last surviving European wolf packs. Both also lied about their names, and provided vomitously self-serving statements about how they did it because they wanted to “give voices to the voiceless” (I think she meant “steal voices from the voiceless”) and “I always felt like I was Jewish” (then convert!) I am not going to get into how completely despicable, not to mention fraudulent, it is to lay claim to the real sufferings of people who were victims of attempted genocide and continue to suffer today. That needs no elaboration.

What caught my attention first was that the fake Holocaust memoir had been optioned by producers I used to work with, who thought it would make a great movie. I never read it, as, like many Jews, I had read and viewed a great deal of material on the Holocaust, and was at that time completely burned out on Holocaust stories. I realize how completely ridiculous and obviously false the wolf story seems in retrospect. But at the time, the reason it never occurred to us that it was fake was that we'd all heard unbelievable-sounding Holocaust stories that were completely factual. For a Jewish child to have survived the Holocaust required such a crazy collection of freakish good luck, unlikely coincidences, flukes of nature, last-minute saves, and people acting with astonishing courage and kindness—or astonishing cruelty and sadism that almost miraculously worked out in the survivor’s favor— that all of their stories were jaw-droppingly unlikely. Misha's story just didn't seem implausible in that context.

That brings me to the reason why I wrote a memoir, All the Fishes Come Home To Roost: an American Misfit in India, rather than an autobiographical novel. (sartorias asked about this in her very flattering post, thank you Sherwood, which discusses my book and my party trick of being able to recite back conversations word-for-word.) I actually did write some autobiographical plays. They all had the same problems, one of which was that they seemed implausible. The true story of my childhood was so weird, and featured so many bizarre characters acting in unlikely ways, not to mention a deus ex machina conclusion, that it didn’t work very well as fiction. This is not a criticism of fiction, any more than it would be to say that a poem doesn’t make a very good screenplay.

But even as memoir, my story seemed hard to believe. So I decided to tackle this problem head-on. In the first chapter (which you can read online here), my parents and I nearly get killed when we hire a man who doesn’t know how to drive and can’t see over the steering wheel to drive us up a mountain. I chose this as a starting point because it’s a funny story with dark undertones and so gives you a sample of the tone of the whole book, and shows the main characters all acting in characteristic ways.

But when I asked my parents about how they remembered that moment, I realized that there was another good reason to put that story first. I recalled that the reason the driver couldn’t see over the steering wheel was that it was a full-size Jeep and he was a dwarf. My mother, however, said that he was just a short guy in a big vehicle. My father insisted that the problem was that he was a twelve-year-old boy. I wrote all their explanations into the story, and let the readers decide for themselves. By doing that, I made the point that my memory might not be 100% correct, but I had corroboration for the main points, and I would be up-front about anything I wasn’t sure about.

The larger question is “Why write a memoir at all?” But one could as easily ask, “Why fictionalize the truth at all?”

We tell stories because there are stories we want to tell. Autobiographical fiction is written because people want to improve the story, don’t trust their memories, prefer that form, think that form is in style, they want to spare other people’s feelings, they think essential parts of the true story are private, and many other reasons besides. Memoirs are written because people want to blow the whistle, are tired of keeping secrets, prefer that form, think that form is in style, have a story that makes more sense that way, and many other reasons besides.

Fiction which is not emotionally honest is artistically bankrupt. Memoir which is not factually honest is morally bankrupt. It is a writer’s moral and artistic obligation to tell the truth in the manner that is appropriate to the story they wish to tell.
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