cover image Living on a Dream: A Marriage Tale

Living on a Dream: A Marriage Tale

Patt Blue. University Press of Mississippi, $28 (200pp) ISBN 978-1-57806-057-3

Blue is a photographer, her profession a gift, perhaps the only legacy of value, from her father. His family photographs haunt and enrich the pages of this moving oral history, but the dominant voice here is drawn from three long interview's with Blue's now elderly mother. The pseudonymous Louise lived a life of submission and acquiescence to her philandering husband as he emotionally abused her and neglected their children. Louise tells her daughter of meeting her future husband in the late 1930s. Their marriage, and subsequent divorces and remarriages, bound her in a life of near poverty and betrayal. The greatest deception was her husband's ability to periodically resurrect the dream of a happy, normal family life. The details of her mother's marriage and their family history, supplemented by Blue's own recollections and presented without self-pity or psychologizing, is painfully involving and poignant. Narrative tension is provided not by expectations of a positive outcome, but by the fearful prospect that the fragile strand defining the family will unravel completely. The father, an obsessive womanizer with a fascinating, tragic personality, documents the family's decline with high-quality, artistic portraits that have been skillfully chosen and placed by his oldest daughter. The book stands as far above confessional literature as its photographic images rise above family snapshots. Rather than self-absorption, the family's history tenders a raw lesson in what it sometimes takes to survive. (July)