A GOOD ENOUGH DAUGHTER by Alix Kates Shulman


A Memoir
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A tender memoir about caring for her aging parents from an author better known for fiery feminism (Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, 1972, etc.). Shulman’s most recent book, Drinking the Rain (1995), reflected on the rewards of retreat to an island in Maine. This narrative takes her back to Cleveland, where she left her family more than 40 years ago to begin a fight for independence that would take her through three husbands and two children of her own. But as Shulman makes clear, her flight was not away from an unhappy childhood——I had always felt cherished by my parents,” she says—but from ties so strong that she had to physically remove herself in order to separate from them. Her brother’s death and her mother’s subsequent deterioration brought the author home, where she found satisfaction in daughterly duties. Her parents finally ensconced in a senior residence, Shulman began to probe the past, aware that her father had been impotent, her mother had taken lovers, her brother had resented her (she never does get a handle on that uncertain relationship). But her lawyer father had also earned a place in a historical-society archive for his labor arbitration decisions; her mother had made herself into “an eight-course banquet” of family, music, and travel and was an early collector of artists like Stella, de Kooning, Nevelson, and more. The author alternates dips into her childhood with stories of time spent with her parents in the nursing home, where she redeems whatever pain may have gone before by accepting and understanding who they have become: incontinent, sometimes incoherent, often unpredictable, but still the remarkable individuals who shaped her. Loving and accurate description of the author’s rollover from dependent child to caretaker child, and of the parents who continued to fashion themselves in old age as they had throughout their lives. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-8052-4161-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Schocken
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999


FictionMÉNAGE by Alix Kates Shulman
by Alix Kates Shulman
NonfictionTO LOVE WHAT IS by Alix Kates Shulman
by Alix Kates Shulman
NonfictionDRINKING THE RAIN by Alix Kates Shulman
by Alix Kates Shulman