Maybe I’m like the Elaine character on Seinfeld, I too am an emotional cutter. How else can I explain the four Memoirs/Biographies I’ve read over the last few months? However, the good thing is that after reading each (especially the last one), I know I have a beautiful life.
I’ve always loved Sally Field–cute, lovable, and lasting– she’s a rope across a rushing river. However, according to her autobiography, this is not the authentic Sally Field. In Pieces depicts a child of a neglectful mother, absent father, and an abusive stepfather. Field stumbles through her life, her relationships, and her career in lone blindness, which is in stark contrast with her persona, Gidget. Although Field’s resolve is firm, her journey is heartbreaking. Perhaps this is why she’s so likable?
The Liar’s Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
Mary Karr’s memoir begins in the backseat of her car, clinging to her older sister as their mother attempts to drive them off a bridge.
Karr grew up mostly in Texas but lived in constant fear and uncertainty. Born to parents whose volatile passion for each other overrides the safety of their children, Karr’s memories come from the wide-eyed wonder of a little girl.
Sorrowful and sweet, hilarious and loathsome, Karr’s story is why survive is the root word for survivor.
Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro
It’s as if she’s standing on a tightrope high above her life. Shapiro sees what’s behind her; the excitement of marrying her husband and the tragedy of almost losing her son. She knows her every failed potential, and all her aspirations fulfilled. In front of her, Shapiro can see her future; happiness, enlightenment, and no regrets. However, the problem with standing on a tightrope is that Shapiro recognizes her safety net, the one thing that can protect her if she falls, is compiled of thin threads woven together making up her family.
Beautifully written, and insightfully sharp, Shapiro’s memoir is a conscious picture of life in general.
Where Children Run by Karen Emilson:
One of the first questions Karen Emilson asks is why? Why, in a community of teachers, police, Doctors, Nurses, church-goers, and neighbors, had the Pischke children’s abuse gone on, and had been so bad? Why did no one stop the psychotic stepfather, “Domko”? Or why didn’t their mother, Caroline, simply leave?
In the written account of twins, David and Dennis Pischke, the reader witnesses abuse, torture, and neglect of the boys for twelve years, and at the hands of people who should have protected them. Yes, the family received kindnesses every once in a while, but nothing long-lasting or shielding. In the end, David and Dennis had to figure out their own survival, like they always had.
Twisted, heartbreaking, and fury building, this biography never adequately answers the question of why, because in real life, these questions never really can be.