BECAUSE I WAS FLESH by Edward Dahlberg


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A rare example of confessional literature, filled with a sort of brutal hunger and hugger-mugger honesty. Called ""an autobiography"", this is a cri de coeur not often heard in American letters, a larger-than-life remembrance in which the themes of concupiscence and lack of communication intertwine. Like everything else that has given Dahlberg so particular a position in the cultural underground, from his novels to his criticism, the use of a mournful, majestic prose and a floridly formal style may seem outrageously overdone. Underneath these however, lie the earthy elements: the terrible and touching portraits of himself and his mother; of Kansas City, sporting houses and farms; of saloons and schools; of money-grubbing and mental junketings; of the mocking, almost savage battle between the flesh and the spirit. Psychiatrists can write what they will concerning the Oedipal situation, but no syndrome could sum up the figure of Lizzie Dahlberg as her son has. With so many comic characteristics--a widowed immigrant, lady barber, half-slut and half-saint, courter of marriageable, pot-bellied possibilities--she nevertheless emerges as a lovely, doomed lady, a strong spirit caught in a sty of hard knocks and wrong turnings. What apparently haunts Dahlberg will haunt the reader too for many a day.

Publisher: New Directions