MEMORY SLIPS by Linda Katherine Cutting


A Memoir of Music and Healing
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 A concert pianist's soft-pedaled, sensitive memories of the childhood sexual abuse that, combined with her two brothers' suicides, tore her from her music. Cutting's father was a minister who crept into her bedroom while her mother was typing his Sunday sermons. He began his forays (which even took place in his office) at about the same time she began to study the piano--when she was six. Cutting learned to bury her anguish in her music. Her brothers were beaten and abused as well; it was only many years later, after a second brother shot himself and the family publicly reported his death as a car accident, that the extent of her childhood abuse began to surface--and that she began to forget passages of music in long-familiar pieces. Chapters alternate between the 1980s, when she was developing a successful career playing concerts with major orchestras, and the 1990s, when she hospitalized herself as a result of dreams and the ``memory slips'' that interfered with her performances. Cutting kept a journal by her keyboard through the years of her practice; the journal was to record not her musical notes but the thoughts that distracted her from music. Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart play as prominent a part in this memoir as father, mother, brothers, husbands, and therapists. To ``bear witness'' on behalf of her brothers, she confronted her mother, her father, and ultimately the National Congregation of Churches. In some ways, the saddest part--as it often is with stories of incest and abuse--is that no one believed her. And the story that draws quickest sympathy is that of the church janitor who did understand what was happening in the minister's office. Not an expression of outrage or revelation as much as of pain mirrored by detachment, both finding their language in the sharps and flats of the piano keyboard. (First serial to Cosmopolitan; $30,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-018730-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1996