The Girl Factory: A Memoir

Karen Dietrich. Skirt/Globe Pequot, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7627-9181-1
The raising of girls through the prism of men’s desire becomes an unsettling, suspenseful theme in this affecting first work by journalist Dietrich, who is an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg. The second daughter to two longtime factory workers at Anchor Glass in rural Connellsville, Pa., Dietrich spun fantasies of grandeur while suffering the dark moods of her efficient, no-nonsense mother, who believed her daughter was destined for a greatness that would somehow justify their harsh, toilsome daily lives. Her mother’s suspicious nature (underscored by chapters titled as farmer’s wives’ sayings like “A Knife Under the Bed Will Cut the Pain”) seemed borne out by the senseless murders by a rogue worker of four supervisors at the Anchor factory in 1985, as well as the sudden illness of her beloved nextdoor neighbor and playmate, Samuel. Enrolled in a gifted program at her school, Dietrich found herself mostly friendless and awkward, despite the hopes of her mother; Dietrich found comfort in masturbation early on, discovered by her mother in a terrible scene of castigation that surely reveals her mother’s own secret sexual wounds. Indeed, Dietrich works beautifully by understatement, allowing her subtle clues to paint a terrifying world for the innocent protagonist. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/10/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-4578-0
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Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4930-0065-4
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