The Hanky of Pippin’s Daughter

Rosemarie Waldrop. Dorothy, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-948980-01-2
Born to warring parents in 1930s Germany, musician Lucy Seifert tries to piece together her family’s past in Waldrop’s gratifyingly complex novel. Frederika Wolgamot married schoolteacher Josef Seifert in 1926 and began an affair with his friend Franz Huber two months later. The paternity of her twin daughters, Andrea and Doria, born in 1927, is thus in question. And though Franz disappears, there are enough hints of his presence for Frederika and Josef’s younger daughter, Lucy, to wonder years later about the affair and its aftermath. Writing to Andrea from Providence, where she now lives with her husband and is conducting her own affair with a fellow musician, Lucy imagines her angry, unrepentant mother and her resentful, mystical-minded father in a Germany where Hitler is gaining power and the small towns of Bayreuth and Kitzingen, where the Seiferts lived, grow dangerous for Marxists, gays, and Jews—including Franz Huber. Pitiless and determined, Lucy quotes from newspapers and letters and sketches out her parents’ conversations, dreams, and sexual encounters, despite acknowledging the ultimate opacity of what happened: “the past is an imposter. It obeys our expectations.” Waldrop’s text makes an art of this painful inquiry. This novel powerfully models the desire, and the moral responsibility, to know one’s history. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/25/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 150 pages - 978-0-88268-038-5
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