Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
In this exquisite book of personal reflections on a woman's life as a child, wife, and mother, Kathryn Harrison, "a writer of extraordinary gifts" (Tobias Wolff), recalls episodes in her life, exploring how the experiences of childhood recur in memory, to be transformed and sometimes healed through the lives we lead as adults. At the heart of Seeking Rapture is the notion that a woman's journey is a continuous process of transformation, an ongoing transcendence and re-creation of self.
"Harrison's affinity for vivisecting the soft underbelly of social mores displayed in The Kiss, The Binding Chair, etc. is vividly apparent in this series of autobiographical essays. Detailing aspects of a privileged girlhood lived with eccentric maternal grandparents while yearning to be with her beautiful but promiscuous mother (Harrison's parents married at 18 because Harrison's mother was pregnant; her father, the subject of The Kiss, vanished soon after), Harrison reveals bouts with eating disorders as well as an attraction to religious fervor (the rapture of the title). Raised concurrently with Christian Science and Catholicism, Harrison is fascinated by the complications wrought on the spirit by the body. She records bodily functions e.g., vomiting, lice picking, childbirth as avidly as she recounts the grisly mortifications of the flesh inflicted upon the saints. (In describing her mother's early death from breast cancer and her reaction to it, she illuminates the tale of St. Catherine of Siena's drinking of the cancerous pus of an enemy.) At times the prose sings, at others it merely plunks. Many of these essays are more self-revelatory than self-exploratory. The most evocative piece, the title essay, shows Harrison at her thoughtful, provocative best, mindful of the flaws and desires within everyone, while the essay on nitpicking for lice depicts an almost callous disregard for racial and class differences." Publishers Weekly
"Poignant glimpses into the life of a survivor." Kirkus Reviews
"It's her fierce devotion to her absent mother that gives this book its shimmering grace." Organic Style
"Harrison remains a master of her craft, with musings that are lyrical, insightful, and haunting." Entertainment Weekly
"With all due regard for her achievement as a novelist, Harrison appears Proust-like in another respect: She is her own truest subject, an unending wellspring of emotion and restless quest." Los Angeles Times
"Seeking Rapture is the biography of a hungry heart....Affecting, beautifully crafted autobiographical meditations." The Boston Globe
"Kathryn Harrison has challenged herself and won with her passionate, rigorous thinking on family bonds and family bondage, and the mysterious intersections of body and spirit." The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Kathryn Harrison is the author of the novels The Seal Wife, The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water. She has also written a memoir, The Kiss. Her personal essays, including some from the collection Seeking Rapture, have appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers magazine, and other publications. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their children.