IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN by Jan L. Waldron

IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN

My Travels
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 This exploration of a lifetime's relationships with men is both more and less than meets the eye. Waldron wrote about reuniting with a daughter she gave up for adoption in the well-received Giving Away Simone (1994). Here she writes about living with men, primarily her two sons, Jose and James, but also her father, her brother, and various lovers. Her father was different from other fathers of the '50s--he had no ``regular'' job, but was a jazz musician who played on weekends. He encouraged both his son and his daughter to approach life in the same unconventional way, but his Peter Pan strategy lost its charm when Waldron's mother had a nervous breakdown. Although Waldron was only 11 and her brother but 10 months older, their father withdrew, often to his bedroom, where he literally pulled up the covers. That withdrawal precipitated a break with her father that was repaired only in the last years of his life. Yet Waldron's closeness to and admiration for her brother from the time they were youngsters kept her from giving up on men; indeed, she developed a lifelong compassion for the pressures brought upon a boy to be a ``man.'' A chapter on boyfriends takes the reader along another brambly path, from the author's first 12-year-old crush (a ``California dream'') to teenage sexual adventures that left her pregnant (with the child she gave away) and battered. The father of her boys was ``brilliant,'' ``creative,'' and ``thoughtful,'' but they separated when the boys were very young. Waldron went on to raise her sons not into men, but into adults who will help in ``reinventing family.'' In one chapter she writes of her new partner, who comes close to her ideal male. Less about men than about the author, this book calls for careful reading--it is full of unexpected insights and throwaway wit, landmarks in a sometimes bland landscape.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-48564-6
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997