COLOR IS THE SUFFERING OF LIGHT by Melissa Green

COLOR IS THE SUFFERING OF LIGHT

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A quiet, detailed, but sometimes unsatisfying, memoir of an isolated girlhood. Poet Green (The Squanicook Eclogues, not reviewed) painstakingly describes a childhood fraught with deprivation. Depicting her life through the sixth grade on a Massachusetts farm in the 1960s, she lists many traumas: her mother's cancer, her parents' alcoholism and lack of love for each other, her feelings of being caught in a tug-of-war between her mother and paternal grandmother. Green ``depended on language to save [her],'' she states, but her use of words is not so much insightful as it is descriptive. She conveys the somber mood of the farm, the drudgery of chores, and the wonders of nature with a poet's eye: ``I could see the sun on the tops of the maples, the wind lifting the ruffled skirts of forsythia, swallows returning again and again to their nests, woven from the remnants of autumn.'' In the text's most interesting sections, Green weaves an account of her great- grandparents' 19th-century Boston courtship into her own story; the reader becomes almost more intrigued by her recreation of her family's history than by the description of her own. Green's examination of her emotional life lacks the clarity with which she evokes her physical surroundings. She tells of her relationship to her grandmother--whose ``pet'' she was--but not until the book's second half does she reveal that the woman was obsessed with her and sexually abused her. Green is equally guarded about her own suicidal tendencies; the book is almost over before she states, ``I'd been cutting myself for a long time.'' Haunting, evocative prose that leaves readers wanting to know more.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-393-03650-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994