Angle of Flickering Light tells an honest story. It’s the story of a life in progress, marked at its beginning by a series of small, devastating acts—a parent who should protect and cherish instead abuses.
Essays can often have a certain unapproachable quality. However, when you read Barth, you can’t expect a constant stream of seriousness, or at least seriousness in the most acceptable times. Even before the barrage of essays comes forth to dazzle us, under the heading “The Title of This Book,” he already starts with some unserious seriousness when reflecting on the various sorts of titles floating around in the literary world—while refraining from actually speaking of his title much at all.
Listen Mama is less a traditional memoir and more a compilation of the author’s journal entries, many of which were written at the tender but precocious age of 14. These entries stretch over more than 19 years, covering in real time the heartaches, health problems, and general misfortunes that were thrown at this unfortunate person. What Williams brings to the memoir is a clarity that could cut through bone and a sober reconciliation with the past that can only come with age and knowing.
Both Oceane and Cécile are beautifully articulate, carefully unpicking their own wounds to find something universal in their experience. In breaking their silence, Oceane and Cécile create an allyship between mother and daughter that reverberates beyond their changing relationship to one another, themselves, their histories, and the world they live in.
Having published a book on fifteen (American, British and Irish) tramp writers, although devoting an entire chapter to each, after reading Davies’ book I was left feeling that I had only scratched the surface of this fascinating and under researched phenomena (Davies identifies thirty-three British tramp memoirists alone). I will have to read this book more than once to fully appreciate its scope and content, including the countless delightful anecdotes from the subject’s of Davies curiosity.
The section Indian English Poetry is quite daring in its inclusion of all modern age poets like, Adil Jussawalla, Sanjeev Sethi, Meena Kandasamy and Vihang A. Naik. Mostly, she looks for a hint of a world other than the real, mundane workaday world in the creations of these poets.
I adore this book, particularly as, growing up with a very creative single mother, I have intimate memories of spending one weekend where she, my brother and I painted all the bath panels, doors and cupboards of one of our houses with mermaids, nudes and still-lifes, inspired by the Charleston Homestead. I was enthralled from a young age with the worlds these femme artists created, their dreaminess and boldness to go against the grain of strict class, sexuality and gender expectations.
Compelled by a strong identification with Major’s experience of marriage and motherhood and a familiarity with the power structures that discriminated against her – remembering the marginalisation I’d faced as a single woman raising a child on my own – I came to the gradual understanding that my interaction with her work was almost wholly personal. My instinctive response to The Asparagus Wars, Major’s powerful recounts of gendered inequality, made it undesirable that I interact with the book in any other way.
For what Wrigley does so well with analyzing his own and others’ poetry, there is also a uniqueness with his ability to switch between poetic analysis and intimate memoir on command. The book as a whole is a highly original composition in that it succeeds in combining close readings of poetry, personal narrative, and poetry by Wrigley himself. All of which are quick to grab readers’ attention with a highly in touch sense of pathos and nostalgia.
Mary O’Connor may have made her career as an architect, but her debut book shows her to be one heck of a writer. Her prose is tight, well-paced, and often exquisite. She balances fact and emotion with perfect precision, using a blend of memoir, reportage, biography, and social history to make Free Rose Light a rich and creative book that is both about its subject and transcendent.