A former Village Voice reporter known for her writing on gay and lesbian issues in the 1980s and ’90s holds nothing back in describing her disturbing childhood, relationships and sex life, writing career and painful disability.
Minkowitz’s first memoir, Ferocious Romance (1998), won the Lambda Literary Award. Here, the author employs the same brutal introspection and clever humor, but this book is much more personal and sexually explicit in content. Early on, the author establishes the trope that she is her mother’s golem, an artificial person brought to life through Jewish mysticism to serve its creator. She uses this form of magical realism to explain her disconnected relationship to her body, her mother’s power over her and her willingness to be abused, but she also allows it to justify actions of her own that could otherwise be perceived as selfish or mean. As a child, Minkowitz was hit by her father and forced to tell her mother she looked sexy dancing naked, among other inappropriate exchanges. Obsessed with sex, lying and dying, her mother was a philosophy professor who dominated each of the nearly dozen homes in which the family lived while the author was growing up. Minkowitz escaped to attend Yale before writing for the Voice, where she enjoyed making a difference as a journalist and activist. In her mid-30s, life started unraveling. Relationships with her therapist, best friend and sister crashed and burned. She started seeing a married mother of two, watched her own mother die slowly and experienced the sudden onset of repetitive strain injury, a musculoskeletal condition that prevented her from writing (she now uses voice dictation software) and performing basic domestic tasks.
Surviving these experiences and breaking free of her golem nature is what drives the second half of the book, along with the defiant, playful energy Minkowitz brings to writing about her dark and difficult past. Intelligent but not for the prudish or fainthearted.