Thursday, June 9, 2011

 If you're looking for a good memoir for your summer reading, I'd like to recommend The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy. This is a different sort of memoir, different in that it fuses together memoir and poetry. Author Priscilla Gilman seemed to have a very charmed life. She was raised in a home that was rich in culture and opportunities. She was exposed to lots of poetry, especially the work of the Romantic poets. She went to Yale, fell in love, married. Both partners pursued doctoral degrees at Yale, Gilman doing her dissertation on Wordsworth. Her husband was brilliant if somewhat odd. Together, they envisioned a life filled with children and all the joys of family life.

Gilman had a vision of childhood fueled by her own childhood and the vision imparted by the poets she loved, i.e., Wordsworth and the other English Romantics. Then came her first child, Benjamin. Initially, he appeared to be astonishingly brilliant. He read early, was a whiz with numbers, and adored music. He spouted poetry. Then around age 3 everything changed and all the signs of Benj's brilliance became signs of something else.

While poetry may have given Gilman a false image of childhood, it also sustained her through the years of raising Benj. Inserted throughout this very readable narrative are passages of poems, those lines that seemed to Gilman to say something about her, her life, and her child.

If you visit the Amazon page linked above, you'll find a trailer with Gilman talking about her book. There's also an interview which can be opened and read there or downloaded as a pdf.

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