MY LIFE WITH DR. JOYCE BROTHERS by Kelly Cherry

MY LIFE WITH DR. JOYCE BROTHERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A richly satisfying ""novel in stories""--a coming-to-terms with life from a female perspective--from Cherry (The Lost Traveller's Dream, etc.): the chronicle here concerns a woman without a man who wants a baby and who remembers her brother, in particular, as well as her parents. ""Flying through Weather: A Prologue"" introduces a woman victimized by a man not ready to ""make a commitment."" He breaks off, but (title story) still sends her ""peace offerings"" of brass bookmarks, ""bound and determined not to let it work. . ."" By ""War and Peace,"" the story of a ""Survivors and Incest"" group, we're learning about a father ""Who had already dedicated his life to booze"" and about the fact that ""however different our stories are, they resonate along the same emotional lines."" Then, suddenly, the narrator takes this advice to heart and surprises us with a string of deeply affecting pieces: ""My Brother: A Biography,"" about another boozer, though a very complicated one; ""Where She Was,"" a dazzling memoir of the southern childhood of her mother; and ""That Old Man I Used to Know,"" concerning her father, a violinist and composer who usually effaced himself ""out of obligation, anxiety or self-consciousness, or naivetÉ"" until he gets Alzheimer's. Subsequent pieces get the narrator artificially inseminated (""What I Don't Tell People""), take us through her brother's funeral (""The Hungarian Countess"") and a day with a friend who's dying (""Acts of Unfathomable Compassion"") before we meet her child (""Spacebaby"") and go full circle to her brother, to the man who left her, and to metaphors of flight (""A Divine Comedy""). A moving journey: an effective attempt to rescue the past ""from the oblivion it is rushing towards. . ."" Cherry's book begins as light as Ephron's Heartburn and makes a quantum leap along the way into a kind of prayer.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1990
Publisher: Algonquin