I read a review of Kathryn Harrison's new book of essays this morning. The collection of essays might be called confessions. I read two books by her in the late nineties, a novel, "Exposure" and a memoir, "The Kiss." They were a wonder, really, each exploring the same theme--her relationship with her father. How does one have children, stay married, and expose the parts of her life, both internal and external, that she does? Most of us can't even opine about controversial topics around the house without getting into a psychologically troubling battle.
With startling candor and almost clinical attention to detail, she writes about the sort of behaviors, thoughts and experiences most of us don’t care to recall, let alone lay bare and examine for an audience. For Harrison, whose interior life is like a rich vein she can tap at will, there seems to be no moment, no feeling, too private, peculiar or uncomfortable to render in words.I wonder if she is often called narcissistic? Surely.
Another Harrison wrote about such things, too. Perhaps it is a name thing. I've known Harrisons before, and I believe it could be true.
Trying to express myself has never brought me anything but trouble. The Victorians had the whole hiding and repression thing down.
"And in the evening, before the mirror, she would loosen her hair letting it fall over her shoulders. So much beautiful hair, she thought, as she took the brush from the dresser drawer and began brushing it over and over and over again."
And there it is. . . or was. No clinical attention to detail. Just imagery to make your. . . um. . . throat. . . thicken.
That is good stuff, of course. One should only write about what the dog saw. Clinically. Through a dog's brain. It could be fascinating.
It is Patty Duke with Helen Keller. I read in her obituary today that she had a history of mental illness. I think I would have, too. But that is me, and it is confessional, I guess. I should retract the statement. But I have always liked the theme song to "The Patty Duke Show" and still sing a part of it on occasion. "They walk alike, they talk alike. . . ." Etc. Perhaps the dual role of identical cousins contributed, too.
But I'd better quit this. There is no winning with it.