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Me As Her Again


Nancy Agabian

October 2008

Ryan Call

Toward the end of her memoir, the richly titled Me As Her Again, Nancy Agabian writes:

Toward the end of her memoir, the richly titled Me As Her Again, Nancy Agabian writes:

We’re all so concerned that someone will take advantage of us, or overlook us, that we overcompensate with self-aggrandizement. Turks to Europeans, Armenians to Turks, me to my parents or anyone I’m in a relationship with: we all want to avoid being swallowed up, we fear not having an identity of our own, we are terrified we may no longer exist.

The above passage underscores the central concern of the memoir, perhaps a concern with which Agabian had to struggle during the eight years she spent writing the book. Agabian’s further remarks in the afterword suggest that the very act of writing this memoir was a continuation of her struggle for an identity, a struggle which began during her childhood as an American-born Armenian whose grandmother barely escaped Turkey’s genocidal regime of the early twentieth century. In addition to bearing the intensity of her ethnic history, Agabian confusedly comes into sexual maturity during the ‘70s, often unhappily finding herself torn between her bi-curious desires and the mandates of her mother and Armenian propriety.

Out of this morass of confliction emerges the life of Agabian’s grandmother; it is on her grandmother’s story of survival that Agabian focuses the latter half of the book, as if the existential troubles that her grandmother faced and how she lived through catastrophe could help Agabian find a solid foundation on which to build her own life. The result is a moving story of self-realization and discovery, a process bound up in the liberating act of relating one’s history and the history of one’s family.

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