AMERICAN MADE by Shylah Boyd


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Why would Shylah Boyd write a book about Shylah Dale? Next question. This then is one of those long-playing splice-of-life tapes, mostly at ear and eye level. As one of her friends who's writing a novel says, it's ""sort of reportage."" Exactly. Full of the things which solidify our memories--be it the napkin rings in a great-aunt's house or a bottle of Odorono. Running on for 500 pages, this goes back to the time when Shylah's mother commits suicide and Shylah goes down to Key Lime, Florida, to become the ""piss poor daughter' of her drunken Daddy. If this book connects at all on an emotional level, it will be because of this filial relationship which exists by default until the end (""Daddy, be for me, be a daddy-daddy, a walkie-talkie daddy, a nohit daddy. Be, goddamnit, Father of Daughter""). Well, Big Daddy just isn't there, so for the most part Shylah grew up as a nahce, Nawthern girl without him--at beach and slumber parties; discovering the ""NEW"" word fuck (it won't stay new for long); going to a progressive boarding school; college; becoming an artist in New York and sharing the ""lousy scene"" with a still lousier husband; switching from bourbon to grass to Seconals and found overdosed; spending time in an institution; and going home for the last time to Daddy. . . . Actually Shylah is nahce as well as a facile observer and sophisticated recorder. The trouble is, and it's a genuine one, that even if she knows her way around, she's just traveling from an overly familiar here to there with something, in between reportage and the novel, missing.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1975
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux