The Four of Us: The Story of a Family

Elizabeth Swados, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-15219-2
Described by avant-garde composer Swados as ``reverberations put into words,'' these memoirs ring flat. Born in 1950, the author and her brilliant, schizophrenic older brother were raised by well-to-do parents in Buffalo, N.Y. In four parts, one devoted to each family member, she describes the progressive illness of her brother, Lincoln, a street performer in New York City's Lower East Side before his death from emphysema at 46, and his continuing importance to her. Revealing the unpredictable emotional states of both her creative, depressed mother, who committed suicide in the early '70s, and her domineering lawyer father, to whom this volume is dedicated, Swados details her own youth and schooling, her years at the experimental LaMama theater in Manhattan, and her travels. Although lifted occasionally by a pleasing phrase, Swados's account is heavy with reiterated material and a pompous, self-serving tone. While the sections concentrating on her brother and herself display some depth of understanding, those about her parents seem remote and superficial; in all, the author holds center stage. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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