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8: A Memoirby Amy Fusselman
I am not usually interested in memoirs. They normally tend towards narcissism and inflated self-importance; however, Amy Fusselman's was written with careful attention to the beautiful, collective experiences of which life is composed. She also touches on a childhood trauma that she has since overcome (though still affects her), yet it is never the focal point of the memoir. Rather, it serves to emphasize universal feelings and fears we all have realized at some point. She also integrates themes of parenting, self-expression, and the significance of life.
Synopses & Reviews
In this gorgeously elliptical memoir, the acclaimed author of The Pharmacist's Mate examines motherhood, childhood, and the unexpected effects of past events on present actions.
The mania of early motherhood, the intimacy of marriage, and the quest for healing are raw materials from which critically acclaimed writer Amy Fusselman has wrought her latest work — a daring exploration of the perversities of time. The same idiosyncratic and inimitable form Fusselman created in the astonishingly original The Pharmacist's Mate — short, staccato paragraphs, some reading like journal entries — lends intimacy to her reflections and observations. From her experiences with the man she calls "my pedophile" to the more domestic trials of sleep training her infant son or her obsession with a Beastie Boys song, Fusselman moves from one subject to the next with the freeform exuberance of a child at play. Sometimes the topic is abstract and grand, such as her contemplation of what Time is; other times, she focuses on the seemingly trivial and mundane aspects of life. The idea of learning through repetition and the automatic motions of humans are metaphorically represented by the countless figure eights she performed as a child on the ice.
Family is ever present in 8 and Fusselman writes with inclusive tenderness, extending this intimacy to the reader as well. Her efforts to come to terms with the ideas of innocence, aging, and the healing power of touch draw the reader in still deeper — the uplifting revelations staying with you long after the last page is turned.
"Fusselman (The Pharmacist's Mate) skated figure eights when she was little. Those become a metaphor for the way events have folded and unfolded in her life. Her pivotal event was being raped by the husband of her babysitter when she was four. She doesn't describe the actual rape, although she refers to the perpetrator over and over as 'my pedophile.' Around the time of the rape, she went to a performance of Sleeping Beauty with her mother, but suddenly walked up on stage to kiss the prince. She says many people, including her editor, did not find this believable. She wants readers to understand that this was 'true' if 'unbelievable,' as her subtitle suggests. Indeed, she seems to think this is what writing a memoir is all about-making some inner truth believable to others. Though it's only 132 pages, that count has been inflated with many little vignettes-listening to a wise taxi driver, trying to learn to ride a motorcycle, being treated by 'alternative' healers, watching monster truck videos with her children. Even so, there's a lot less here than meets the eye." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Having no apparent direction, beginning or end, Fusselman's freewheeling memoir is alternately serious and trivial, entertaining and exasperating." Kirkus Reviews
The mania of early motherhood, the intimacy of marriage, and the quest for healing — these are the raw materials with which acclaimed writer Fusselman attempts to come to terms with the ideas of innocence, aging, and the healing power of touch.
About the Author
Amy Fusselman's writing has appeared in McSweeney's, Jane, and Art News. She lives with her husband and their two sons in New York City.
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