cover image Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction

Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction

Tama Janowitz. Dey Street, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-239132-2

Recounting her glory days as one of New York's bright young writers in the 1980s and her more recent struggles caring for her ailing mother, novelist and short story writer Janowitz slides too often into melodrama and griping in this tiresome memoir. Janowitz grew up in a toxic family environment even after her parents divorced; she lived with her mother and brother in various spots around western Massachusetts. She paints an unpleasant portrait of her pot-smoking, sex-loving psychiatrist father, who berated her no matter what she did. Achieving the fame she did with her 1986 short story collection, Slaves of New York, came at the cost of myriad rejections and even the embarrassment of having to submit work under a man's name ("Tom A. Janowitz") in an admittedly successful effort to get published in the Paris Review. Throwaway anecdotes about her time spent in London (where she met the Sex Pistols) and New York in the era of Studio 54 and Andy Warhol are overshadowed by the whiny tone she slips into when recalling, often repetitiously, the past decade or so of life in upstate New York, far removed culturally and geographically from her previous pad in Brooklyn. The most affecting moments come when Janowitz reflects on her now deceased poet mother's impact on her life and career, but these flashes of insight are lost in the mishmash of this poorly constructed work. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Aug.)