by Mary Cappello ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 30, 1998
Out of the rich forge of Cappello's '60s Italo-American, impoverished Philadelphia upbringing, Night Bloom charts the author's evolution. Her family was enigmatic in its coupling of love and abandonment, weakness and powerful subjugation. To Cappello the child, her violent father and agoraphobic mother embodied dark secrets. And though she later came to fathom the secrets, until then, they bound her to parents' rituals and abandoned her to their profound neglect. Her father tended, as had his father, to a garden of rare plants (e.g., the title's night-blooming Cereus) with all the love and patience that he could muster. But he also beat her brothers violently with the same hands that turned the earth. Her mother was so depressed by the trials of marriage and poverty that she grew suicidal--then found creative rebirth in therapy. Cappello recalls a childhood game of ""Seek and Find"" in which she would look for hidden messages in a hedge to solve ambient mysteries. In her memoir, she identifies the anxious themes of her life and traces them as they linger on into her adulthood, in which she has found sexual, creative, and personal enlightenment as a lesbian and writer. Making sense of the traumas of her family's psychoses and her own fear of releasing herself from the web of domestic entanglement are perhaps the author's most critical subject here. Still, she patches and bridges the damage of her youth in so many stark recollections that it's hard to escape (or objectively consider) the hammering of her words. Her language is at times convoluted; her borrowings from her grandfather's diaries and her mother's poetry are often out of place. Still, though too labored, this memoir makes a promising contribution to the records of the Italian-American experience.
Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1998
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998
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