Spellbound: Growing Up in God's Country

David W. McKain, Author University of Georgia Press $18.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1048-0
A reminiscence by poet McKain on his boyhood during the '40s and '50s in a Pennsylvania mountain town, this tale is remarkable for the author's portraits of his parents. A lay preacher and an ex-minister fallen on hard times, they were furiously at odds in a marriage aptly summed up by the father's recurrent ``falling sickness.'' Seemingly incurable, the epileptic attacks battered and baffled all concerned. Equally mysterious was the father's violent rage, unleashed without warning on wife and son. A flamboyant, enigmatic figure who frequently left home for long periods to live apart from his family, he fascinated his son, who eventually learned to break the ``spell'' by writing in memory of him. Until then, ``I guarded my inner life by observing what was going on around me,'' McKain comments. Many of his observations, however, lack the vivid sense of witness present in his writing on his parents, making long stretches of this coming-of-age story seem generic. But at its best, the memoir has the force of fact told with the persuasiveness of fiction. (October)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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