cover image Distant Fathers: A Memoir

Distant Fathers: A Memoir

Marina Jarre, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. New Vessel Press, $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-939-93194-8

The late Italian novelist Jarre (1925–2016) reflects on her life in this kaleidoscopic memoir, here appearing in English for the first time. As she moves from her childhood in Riga, Latvia, to her adolescence in the 1930s living with her grandmother in Torre Pellice, Italy, after her parents’ divorce, gems of language and ideas abound. She notes her jealousy of others’ childhoods, fueled by “the unease I’ve always felt... the existence of that other I was not,” and examines her anguished, vivid dreams—often involving evocative allusions to her parents—in an effort to reconcile her feelings of alienation. Introspection dominates her narrative, and she meditates on her marriage in 1949; motherhood (“I gave birth to myself along with my children”); life after having a hysterectomy; and her relationship with her mother, who “like a man drove me back into my place as a servant.” While the fragmented structure requires close reading, Goldstein’s analysis of Jarre’s method, as provided in a translator’s note (“Sudden changes of pace and tone and abrupt shifts in subject... always circle back, creating a kind of tightly controlled stream of consciousness”), will help readers appreciate her lyrical prowess. Those willing to embrace nonlinear storytelling will be taken with Jarre’s haunting prose. (June)