Review of Andre Dubus’s Townie

W.W. Norton & Company 2011 I haven’t spoken to my dad in more than twenty years. Of course he hasn’t contacted me either, but I suspect that this may be my life’s regret. My parents divorced when I was two, and Mom was awarded sole custody. But when my brother was eleven and I was...

Ignorance, Lies, Imagination and Subversion in the Writing of Memoir and the Personal Essay

I’ve long believed that much of the power of memoir and the personal essay comes from the fact that the writer allows the reader to stand alongside him or her, participating in events that have already happened and sharing space with the author’s sensibility. To make that possible, I tell my students, it can be...

Review of Tom Montgomery Fate’s Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild

Beacon Press 2011 As I write this review I’m wearing a T-shirt I bought when I visited Walden Pond. It sports a woodcut image of Henry David Thoreau with one word beneath: Simplify. The irony of an entire tourist trade built up around an iconoclast who did indeed wish to simplify wasn’t lost on me...

Review of Mira Bartók’s The Memory Palace

Free Press 2011 Memory fascinates me…as does madness, so Mira Bartók’s memoir The Memory Palace drew me in. As powerful a draw these subjects may be, I won’t linger long without words, long delicious strings of words, and here Bartók delivers. As I read, I could feel the careful attention she gave to each sentence,...

Review of Sharyn Wolf’s Love Shrinks: A Memoir of a Marriage Counselor’s Divorce

Soho Press 2011 I spent years debating whether I wanted a divorce. My three children would live in a broken home, where the fairytale of one happy family, with mom and dad together would be lost. I’d be a single mom, who’d forfeit the comfort of depending on another person. But my husband and I...