South Mountain Road: A Daughter's Journey of Discovery

Hesper Anderson, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-85901-9
A screenwriter (Children of a Lesser God), Anderson displays deft storytelling ability in this finely written memoir that opens stunningly with her mother's suicide in 1953. Subsequently summoned home to New York from college, she confronted headlines about her mother's death, which was tabloid material due to Mabbie Anderson's glamour and the fame of her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Maxwell Anderson. Painfully insecure, remote and sometimes cruel to her only child, Mabbie had made many attempts to kill herself. Anderson poignantly recalls that ""between the ages of three and four... I stopped trying to reach her."" But Anderson adored her father and their idyllic life in a ""white cinder block concrete castle"" with lush gardens, meticulously tended by Mabbie. At that time, South Mountain Road in Rockland County, N.Y., was home to a relaxed, sophisticated community of writers, artists, intellectuals and theater people, including Alan Jay Lerner, Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Burgess Meredith, and family friend and cartoonist Milton Caniff and his wife, Bunny. When Max had film work, the family traveled to L.A., where stars like Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn treated young Anderson kindly. This memoir's fascination lies not in these celebrities and their bygone community, however, but in its exploration of parental love and approval, betrayal and deceit in relationships and the need to find family where you can. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7432-4246-2
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