Dreams of Obama

I would have to say that I disagree with our professor when she stated that assigning this text was a mistake.  I’ll admit, it may not have been the text I was most looking forward to, enjoyed the most, or even gained the most from, but it seemed to resonate with our class in a very important way.  Whether you belong to the skeptics or the perhaps naive believers, what Dreams from my Father did was force us to consider the authenticity, the honesty, and the integrity of its author.  As our professor pointed out, to claim this memoir, or any memoir a all, as a work of nonfiction is a bit of a stretch.  There is no way, short of documenting every waking moment of your life, to recall all of the fleeting moments of one’s existence.  Conversations become misconstrued, insignificant acts become pivotal, the minor becomes major, etc.  Hindsight and a lucrative publishing deal allow one to recreate their past, portray a certain type of existence that may be more appealing, more admirable, or more interesting.  Obama’s case, to me, is no different.   His familial life was certainly unique, his childhood certainly atypical, and the circumstances of him achieving success are certainly worthy of recognition.  Though he may not have been planning his presidential campaign in 1995, when the book was published, he was clearly aware of his status and how he may improve upon it.  However, rather than taking the “John McCain” route and creating a hyper-idealized reinterpretation of his past, Obama’s approach is much subtler, attempting to portray his life as one that is much more ordinary than one would assume.  There are no romanticized episodes to be found in his text, just a man speaking confidently of his accomplishments and plainly about his experiences.  This normalization of his experiences is exactly what makes it more appealing to his readers.  This text aims, and succeed, in introducing Obama as someone you could bum a cigarette of off or take turns tossing up shots from the foul line with.  Considering the circumstances of his life, his writing is far too ordinary, his honesty so overwhelming that it can easily be seen as exaggerated.  This does not make him any less of a captivating individual, it simply allows for the recognition of his intelligence and capability.

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