AFTER THE STROKE: A Journal by May Sarton


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In 1980, Sarton noted in her journal, Recovering, that ""Nothing that happens to us. . .is unusable."" As if to test the validity of that assertion, the poet/novelist/essayist has since turned out At Seventy (1984), and now this recounting of her recovery from a minor stroke in 1986. But as much as one admires Sarton's resilience and dedication to her craft, this latest outing proves a severe test indeed. As in the previous journals, page after page is devoted to somewhat self-indulgent descriptions of real and imagined symptoms, meals with friends and admirers, pets, gardening, and the meteorological vagaries of life on the Maine coast. Crab salad and heart flutters appear with all the insistence of Wagnerian leitmotifs; peonies and ""nor' westers"" intrude with stunning regularity. There are, however, also gracious expressions of gratitude and affection for colleagues and mostly unidentified ""lovers."" And a few times--as when Sarton rips into Louise Bogan, accusing her fellow-poet of jealousy, condescension, and mendacity, or when, in an uncharacteristic bit of self-criticism, she describes a childish scene she made at the local beauty parlor--a livelier and fuller personality is revealed. Although, laudably, Sarton makes no attempt to disguise her lesbianism, she nonetheless veils most of her more intimate feelings; nor are her philosophical musings marked by special depth or originality. For the most part, then: a platitudinous, self-conscious exercise in non-revelation.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1988
ISBN: 0393306305
Publisher: Norton