FUGITIVE SPRING: A Memoir by Deborah Digges


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In this gentle, unassuming memoir set against the Vietnam era, Digges (English/Tufts Univ.), a poet, recounts her coming of age and the break with home and family that emancipated her as a woman and a writer. One of ten children born to Dutch Reformist parents in Jefferson City, Missouri, Digges grew up amid the family orchards and the rats used by her doctor father for his cancer research. It was a childhood made lonely by too many siblings (no friend is ever mentioned) treated too much the same by preoccupied parents. In high school, Digges worked for a while in her father's cancer clinic, discovering that she had neither the ability nor the temperament for dealing with the gravely ill. She had a brief, unsuccessful college career devoted entirely to acting out, mostly sexually, her rebellion against her background. After flunking out, she married straight-arrow Charlie Digges, a favorite of her parents, and quickly became pregnant. She, Charlie, and the baby moved first to Texas, then to California, as Charlie went through pilot training and became a military airman, sent away on missions for long periods of time. In her solitude, Digges began writing poetry. She took writing courses at a nearby university and made a friend who seemed to embody all her own suppressed nonconformist urges; this friend died in a car accident. Digges and her husband finally divorced. Not bad, but not memorable. The events aren't especially dramatic; the language doesn't dazzle; the characters aren't particularly vivid (though the parents have their interesting features, they are never quite seen whole); no extraordinary insight emerges. Perhaps this is a ease of a poet unable to surmount the potential quicksand of prose.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1992
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Knopf