Family Portraits

Carolyn Anthony, Author, Carolyn Anthony, Other Doubleday Books $18.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-385-26415-0
Good writers draw deeply on their childhoods and memories of parents and siblings, and it was a fine idea to persuade a group of them to do so formally, for the reader's pleasure. The authors represented here are a thoroughly mixed bag, ranging from Isaac Bashevis Singer and Wallace Stegner to such current popular favorites as Margaret Atwood and Gail Godwin. They write most often of fathers and mothers, though there are several beloved aunts and uncles. The prevailing mood is one of regret: over thwarted lives, particularly for the mothers of another era, for the affection that was never adequately conveyed in life. The book is like a poignant collection of short stories. Particularly striking among them are Stegner's threnody for his mother, Atwood's saucy recollection of ``great aunts,'' Alfred Kazin's exotic tale of Brooklyn Jewish life, Godwin's wry evaluation of her mother as writer and person, Elizabeth Spencer's beautifully written evocation of the South and Gloria Steinem's agonized chronicle of her mother's difficult life. All are worth reading as indications of how sweetly imagination works with memory to evoke other times, other places. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-14-014357-7
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