In this memoir, W. S. Merwin recalls his youth, growing up in a repressed Presbyterian household in the small river towns of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The complex portrait that emerges of a family without language or history, transforms the story of their isolated lives into the development of a writer’s conscience and a warning about the fate of a middle class eager to obliterate origins.
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"Merwin’s prose is never less than graceful, and his effort—to understand, to record, perhaps even to celebrate inarticulate lives—is ambitious and laudable." —Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review
W. S. MERWIN is the author more than forty books of poetry, prose, and translation, including The Carrier of Ladders, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He has been honored with the Bollingen Award, the first Tanning Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and many others. He has lived for many years in Hawai’i.
“Merwin’s prose is never less than graceful, and his effort—to understand, to record, perhaps even to celebrate inarticulate lives—is ambitious and laudable.” —Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review
“This book is superbly written, offering deep glimpses into the complexities and mysteries of family bonds, with just that distancing from people and events necessary for artistic control.” —Wall Street Journal
“Like family photos taken at intervals, these six essays record scenes indelibly inscribed on a growing boy’s consciousness… The wonder is that Merwin has turned depressing, bleak lives into an almost comic, often touching family portrait.” —Publishers Weekly