Memory of Kin

Mary Helen Washington, Author
Mary Helen Washington, Author Doubleday Books $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-385-24782-5
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Organized under 10 familial categories--from wives and husbands to mothers and sons to the extended family--this potpourri of stories, excerpts from novels, and poems explores the many ways the generations connect. The standout is James Baldwin's sensitive, intense tale of a young man's struggle with drugs and despair, and the healing power of art in Harlem in the 1950s. Ernest Gaines tells a penetrating story of the lessons a mother teaches her son about power and compassion. Jamaica Kincaid describes a West Indian childhood as a ``paradise'' of love until the mother abruptly changes the rules when her daughter reaches adolescence. A young girl becomes an unwilling witness to the small humiliations her mother must suffer at the welfare office in Paulette Childress White's story. Toni Cade Bambara writes about a feisty child who demands to be taken seriously by her uncle, one of the adults who ``figure they can treat you just anyhow.'' Replete with vivid narratives and illuminating insights, this is an engrossing collection. Washington edited Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women 1860-1960. (Jan.)
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