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Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One

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Memoirs of a Dilettante is a collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, in their off-beat antics in such places as common as the local McDonald's or the comic book store, to their travels to Miam Memoirs of a Dilettante is a collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, in their off-beat antics in such places as common as the local McDonald's or the comic book store, to their travels to Miami for the search for the perfect Cuban sandwich. Interspersed between wacky one-off adventures, Helena tells personal, sometimes painful stories from her past in order to try and make sense of her life as it has played out, tempering everything with an indomitable sense of humour. Cummerbund Bandersnatch, the Accidental Plagiarist, strippers, rock stars, geeks, freaks, and the Barista With No Name -- these are just a few of the characters you'll meet inside.


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Memoirs of a Dilettante is a collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, in their off-beat antics in such places as common as the local McDonald's or the comic book store, to their travels to Miam Memoirs of a Dilettante is a collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, in their off-beat antics in such places as common as the local McDonald's or the comic book store, to their travels to Miami for the search for the perfect Cuban sandwich. Interspersed between wacky one-off adventures, Helena tells personal, sometimes painful stories from her past in order to try and make sense of her life as it has played out, tempering everything with an indomitable sense of humour. Cummerbund Bandersnatch, the Accidental Plagiarist, strippers, rock stars, geeks, freaks, and the Barista With No Name -- these are just a few of the characters you'll meet inside.

31 review for Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Sears

    Memoirs of a Dilettante is a fun, rollicking read, which makes the more serious, heartfelt chapters that much more resonant. After reading this book, you feel as if you've been let into a delicious inside joke and that Helena and Penny are just waiting for you to join them on one of their many hilarious and often ridiculous adventures. Memoirs of a Dilettante is a fun, rollicking read, which makes the more serious, heartfelt chapters that much more resonant. After reading this book, you feel as if you've been let into a delicious inside joke and that Helena and Penny are just waiting for you to join them on one of their many hilarious and often ridiculous adventures.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    One of the things I struggle with when reading memoir is trusting the narrator. That may seem strange because the very nature of memoir implies that it is being written from the person who lived the experience, through their honest and perceptive eyes. But let's be honest, we all view our lives in retrospect, and color our stories through the blurred lenses of memory. Whenever I read a memoirs of times long past,--20, 30, 40 years--filled with explicit details of what people wore or ate any given One of the things I struggle with when reading memoir is trusting the narrator. That may seem strange because the very nature of memoir implies that it is being written from the person who lived the experience, through their honest and perceptive eyes. But let's be honest, we all view our lives in retrospect, and color our stories through the blurred lenses of memory. Whenever I read a memoirs of times long past,--20, 30, 40 years--filled with explicit details of what people wore or ate any given day, I immediately wonder, how can you possibly remember that? I don't trust the narrator. Unless someone has kept anal, detailed diaries of every moment of their lives or has a photographic memory of everything they've seen, said, or done, I tend to doubt their ability to clearly tell the stories of times long past. That is why it was such a delight and relief to read MEMOIRS OF A DILETTANTE, VOLUME ONE by Helena Hann-Basquiat. Helena explains it herself on the very first page of the book: ". . . Whether for the sake of narrative,or because the bitter pill of truth is always easier to swallow with a candy coating of pretty lies, I may have blurred the lines between truth and fiction. Consider this a cowardly confession; I find it easier to tell certain autobiographical tales if they are dressed up in another set of clothes. . . ." Perhaps this caveat will make some say, well then this is fiction not memoir, and avid memoir fans will turn away, but it would be their loss. Who hasn't thought about telling their own story as if they were a character in a book, rather than the complete reality of their lives? Who hasn't embellished their own experiences somewhat to make their lives seem more exciting and interesting, or perhaps a little less terrifying? By claiming her persona of an unreliable narrator (which she does several times throughout the book) it enabled me, as a reader, to feel the honesty of the stories even underneath their gloss and glamour. I actually trusted the voice more, because I was not expected to believe everything as 100% truth--and that made it a richer, more powerful read that I absolutely loved. Snapshot_20150403_1 Alternatively playful, poetic, powerful and poignant, my favorite dilettante delights readers with pop culture references and an ability with language that reminded me of one of my favorite television shows (The Gilmore Girls) although I'm not sure Helena herself would approve of that. Still, for me it high praise, as I always admire those who have the perfect turn of phrase and the ability to put our lives into perspective with the most astute and obscure pop culture references. Helena's book abounds with the music of the soundtrack of her life--a sound track that I would love to have. I always yearn for the perfect song to be playing in the background, the one that brings memories and stories to life in living color. The dilettante does this and more, sharing a story that can't help but make you reflect on your own choices in life. I am looking forward to reading Memoirs of a Dilettante, Volume Two which is now available. Get your copy of both, it will be worth it!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Cross

    First of all, this book isn't perfect. But I loved the quirkiness of it anyway, so I'm willing to look past a few things and still give it 5 stars. I say that because 3 days after finishing it, I'm still thinking about it. FIRST THING YOU SHOULD KNOW: This is not a memoir that has a true story arc to it. It's more like a collection of memories. (Duh. Memoir. But NOT memoir.) At first, I was skeptical. Within the first 5% I kept thinking . . . where is this going? But then I just settled in for t First of all, this book isn't perfect. But I loved the quirkiness of it anyway, so I'm willing to look past a few things and still give it 5 stars. I say that because 3 days after finishing it, I'm still thinking about it. FIRST THING YOU SHOULD KNOW: This is not a memoir that has a true story arc to it. It's more like a collection of memories. (Duh. Memoir. But NOT memoir.) At first, I was skeptical. Within the first 5% I kept thinking . . . where is this going? But then I just settled in for the ride, and ended up kind of falling into a girl crush. SECOND: it's faster (via ebook) than it looks. There are so many notes added in (which are great: you should read them) that it really ends at like 68%. The chapters are pretty short too, which makes for easy reading, so you never get bored in one of the little recollections. THIRD: While the disorganization of it was, at first, not working in it's favor, I ended up looking forward to it. Because what I actually found through the stories was that a couple of really deep characters emerged, amongst a lot of alcohol and not a few music references. ^ This is where the strength of the story lies. The characters. Though scattered and eccentric and sometimes a mere channel for a musical opinion spree, it's kind of the beauty of it. There are hints of life that sneak in, and I ended up highlighting so many sentences that my kindle looked like a zebra. That's why I gave it five stars. I couldn't stop highlighting (which means I want to remember all those lines) and I'm still thinking about the characters after several days.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andra Watkins

    A creative, delicious romp through the life of your favorite dilettante. I loved the use of footnotes, not to be missed for their hilarious snark. The pictures added a lot to the story as well. Even though the book appears to be a disjointed series of tales on its face, it wraps up with a poignant point that you realize was there all along. Helena lives life. She teaches her niece to do likewise. That she never met a situation that she wouldn't try is invigorating. Her self-deprecation is funny. A creative, delicious romp through the life of your favorite dilettante. I loved the use of footnotes, not to be missed for their hilarious snark. The pictures added a lot to the story as well. Even though the book appears to be a disjointed series of tales on its face, it wraps up with a poignant point that you realize was there all along. Helena lives life. She teaches her niece to do likewise. That she never met a situation that she wouldn't try is invigorating. Her self-deprecation is funny. Her roundabout methods of storytelling are endearing. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to smile when they read. To anyone who loves Star Wars and John Hughes. Especially to anyone who wants to hum along while they read. (Morrissey, Jeff Buckley, the list is endless. This book should have a soundtrack.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    Memoirs of a Dilettante will take you on a crazy ride. Through the dalliances of a precocious woman, through hold your breath moments, through laugh so loud those around you think you're a little crazy - type moments. The pop culture references and accompanying footnotes add a breath of lightness to even the heaviest moments and have you nodding your head in agreement. The story feels like a peek into a glamorous world that is far out of reach for most of us, yet is still conversational and rela Memoirs of a Dilettante will take you on a crazy ride. Through the dalliances of a precocious woman, through hold your breath moments, through laugh so loud those around you think you're a little crazy - type moments. The pop culture references and accompanying footnotes add a breath of lightness to even the heaviest moments and have you nodding your head in agreement. The story feels like a peek into a glamorous world that is far out of reach for most of us, yet is still conversational and relatable. Helena Hann Basquiat is an original. Her writing is like no one I've ever read before. There is genius in her words and heart in her stories. I absolutely loved this book and the brilliant mind behind it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lizzi Lewis

    An absolute romp of a tale, skittering delightfully through some of the pasts and presents of the Dilettante's history, 'Memoirs' is simply delightful, jam-packed with writing so exquisite it should really be read on a Parisian balcony whilst quaffing Champagne and eating strawberries. There are a number of further wonders to behold, in the gorgeous subtext of (well, subtexts...or footnotes, whichever), which add a certain piquancy to the story, and allow it to come to life. Then there are the m An absolute romp of a tale, skittering delightfully through some of the pasts and presents of the Dilettante's history, 'Memoirs' is simply delightful, jam-packed with writing so exquisite it should really be read on a Parisian balcony whilst quaffing Champagne and eating strawberries. There are a number of further wonders to behold, in the gorgeous subtext of (well, subtexts...or footnotes, whichever), which add a certain piquancy to the story, and allow it to come to life. Then there are the moments when the Dilettante breaks through the fourth wall, to talk to you directly...and if you're very good, she'll call you "darling".

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Thomson

    This was a delightful memoir. I thoroughly enjoyed the travels, antics and tribulations of Helena and her Niece Penny. The dialogue is witty and fun. Although not everything that happens to Helena is fun and light, she takes you with her and breaks your heart and you see exactly what she is made of. As Helena points out "dilletante comes from the Italian word dilettare (to delight)...And I will wear the word dilettante like a badge of honour, as one willing to try, as one will is willing to fail This was a delightful memoir. I thoroughly enjoyed the travels, antics and tribulations of Helena and her Niece Penny. The dialogue is witty and fun. Although not everything that happens to Helena is fun and light, she takes you with her and breaks your heart and you see exactly what she is made of. As Helena points out "dilletante comes from the Italian word dilettare (to delight)...And I will wear the word dilettante like a badge of honour, as one willing to try, as one will is willing to fail..." She finishes this paragraph with "So don't you dare call me dilettante---unless you mean it." You will love Helena, darlings. Read it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hansen

    Helena's writing is both captivating and hilarious. The antics of the dilettante and the Countess kept me entertained throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys breathing and knows how to read. Anyone else simply won't be able to find joy in it. Helena's writing is both captivating and hilarious. The antics of the dilettante and the Countess kept me entertained throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys breathing and knows how to read. Anyone else simply won't be able to find joy in it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarina

    When it comes to sarcasm, there is a fine line between rude and witty. That line is even harder to walk when it comes to writing. Helena Hann – Basquiat and her co-conspirator Penny seem to have it down to a fine art. This is what I enjoy most about the writings of this author. She seems to be able to take everyday situations and turn them into enlightened forms of sarcastic humor. Her memoirs have a sense of ‘je ne se qua’. Sophisticated and artistic pop culture commentary. Relatable stories, wh When it comes to sarcasm, there is a fine line between rude and witty. That line is even harder to walk when it comes to writing. Helena Hann – Basquiat and her co-conspirator Penny seem to have it down to a fine art. This is what I enjoy most about the writings of this author. She seems to be able to take everyday situations and turn them into enlightened forms of sarcastic humor. Her memoirs have a sense of ‘je ne se qua’. Sophisticated and artistic pop culture commentary. Relatable stories, which seem to be inspired by real life. The blurb on the back of the book explains it well: “Most – okay, some – of what follows is true.” It was really hard to believe that a man (since the Author uses a female pen name) wrote some of the more painful stories, stories which seem too feminine of an experience. Perhaps men and women are really not very different after all. Among my favorite in the collection of memoirs is the one titled: "Gotta catch ‘em all! (the modern young woman’s guide to choosing friends)" Sincerely, if you were to buy the book to only read that particular chapter it would have been money well spent. It is an excellent piece of sarcastic commentary on how shallow our society seems to have become. How labels have replaced human beings and us as a society seem to take offense with everything. I recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s something a little bit different. Most likely it is not like anything you have ever read before. Defiantly something that will make you think about the world we live in. It’s charming, it’s painful, it’s fiction, it’s fact. I give this a five out of five stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Brennan

    I don’t know if Helena Hann-Basquiat is a real person or not, or possibly a committee like the one that produced the works of “Shakespeare.” All I know for sure is that she/he/they is a hell of a writer. I chose to read it as fiction, but “Memoirs of a Dilettante - Volume One” is neither a memoir nor a novel, nor a collection of short stories. Maybe it’s a bag of bagatelles, I don’t know. But in a strange way it does seem to recount things that might have really happened to a young woman around I don’t know if Helena Hann-Basquiat is a real person or not, or possibly a committee like the one that produced the works of “Shakespeare.” All I know for sure is that she/he/they is a hell of a writer. I chose to read it as fiction, but “Memoirs of a Dilettante - Volume One” is neither a memoir nor a novel, nor a collection of short stories. Maybe it’s a bag of bagatelles, I don’t know. But in a strange way it does seem to recount things that might have really happened to a young woman around the time Helena describes them. Real people and things are mentioned, such as Morrissey -- and I know he’s real because I have several of his records. Helena is enamored of him. Oh, and Amoeba Records in San Francisco, which I also know to be real because I’ve bought Morrissey records there. What this book really is, I think, is a chance for a superb wordsmith to show off a little bit, to craft really enjoyable sentences that are a pleasure to read, to create personas and voices that almost want to rise from the page like a pop-up book for kids, and to entertain readers with a “narrative” that goes anywhere and everywhere in a way that is more like “Tristram Shandy” than anything else I can think of. All the while it is leading to a surprisingly poignant and moving conclusion.* In other words, this is a unique book by a unique writer, and though someone seeking literally a memoir or a novel might be surprised by what he finds here, he definitely will not be disappointed. ---- *Plus, the nearly 400 footnotes are a lot of fun, and easy to toggle to in the ebook.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    I spent a good part of a vacation reading this book and enjoyed every word of it! Helena tells stories of her California years: rubbing elbows (and sometimes more than elbows) with musicians, crossing paths with sociopaths, having her world turned upside down by men who loved her too much and men who didn’t love her enough. There’s Wyoming and the funny but dramatic series of tangles with an “Accidental Plagiarist” and Cheyenne, his girlfriend “exotic dancer.” Helena even delves into her early a I spent a good part of a vacation reading this book and enjoyed every word of it! Helena tells stories of her California years: rubbing elbows (and sometimes more than elbows) with musicians, crossing paths with sociopaths, having her world turned upside down by men who loved her too much and men who didn’t love her enough. There’s Wyoming and the funny but dramatic series of tangles with an “Accidental Plagiarist” and Cheyenne, his girlfriend “exotic dancer.” Helena even delves into her early adult years when she lived with a strange religious cult that she had joined only to be close to a boy she had fallen in love with. And music! Always music, most of which I had never heard of before. The Postal Service has a new meaning for me, and it didn’t have anything to do with mail. There’s quite a bit of tragedy in these stories, for both Helena and her niece Penny, but their relationship pulls them through. I thoroughly enjoyed Helena’s saber-sharp wit, her alliterations, her annotations which were as much fun to read as the stories. Whether the Memoirs are fact or fiction is irrelevant, especially in the face of such entertaining and insightful writing. I highly recommend the paperback version of Memoirs: the cover is beautiful and the whole design is pleasing to the eye. The ebook version works very well with the annotations; you never lose your place. I am truly looking forward to Volume Two.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara Litchfield

    Do you know Helena? Some people say that she doesn't even exist. But she does - in these pages if nowhere else. And she's worth knowing. Her memoirs are funny, tragic, surprising and haunting in turns. Part of the fascination in reading is wondering where the truth starts or ends and the fiction begins. Here's the opportunity to read a richly designed tapestry that delights and entertains. Do you know Helena? Some people say that she doesn't even exist. But she does - in these pages if nowhere else. And she's worth knowing. Her memoirs are funny, tragic, surprising and haunting in turns. Part of the fascination in reading is wondering where the truth starts or ends and the fiction begins. Here's the opportunity to read a richly designed tapestry that delights and entertains.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arden

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kitt O'Malley

  15. 5 out of 5

    HastyWords HastyWords

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  17. 5 out of 5

    M. Gilliland

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deanna Herrmann

  20. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Carlan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisaspiral Besnett

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Swedoski

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paige

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cetty Giannone

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melody Holmes

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeanine Lebsack

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  31. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

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