Never Let Me Down

Susan J. Miller, Author
Susan J. Miller, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4429-4
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
During the late 1950s, just months before she graduated from Bennington College, Miller's father casually informed her that he had been a heroin addict for much of her childhood. This was to be the key to understanding--and reconciling--her intense childhood fears, the many moves her family made around New York City, her mother's crippling depression and the beatings and incestuous contact Miller suffered at the hands of her older brother, Aaron. Rather than accumulating remembered details sequentially, Miller extracts in a nonlinear fashion one memory at a time, as if each one ""is like a hot stove. I cannot touch it for more than an instant."" The result is a haunting, slowly evolving inquiry into the construction of self, a series of memories strung together by association, and examined as they might be over a series of therapy sessions. Eventually, Miller achieved a sort of reconciliation with her father and was able to come to terms with the events and emotions springing from his once-secret addiction. All the same, his inability to see beyond himself, and her mother's unwillingness to act in Miller's defense, remain lingering points of frustration for the author. A candid memoir that beautifully illustrates the ongoing processes of trauma recovery and self-investigation. (Jan.)
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