Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A masterful memoir by LInda Joy Myers

I had the pleasure of reading a review copy of Linda Joy Myers re-released memoir, Don't Call Me Mother. Every memoir writer should read, savor, and learn from the mastery in the way this book is written.

Is this a great cover?

Linda Joy Myer’s memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother: A Daughter’s Journey form Abandonment to Forgiveness, totally fulfills her memoir writing axioms: write to heal, write your truth, write to bring your dark stories into the light.

From the minute I picked up this book and started reading I was hooked. Her poetically visceral words drew me in and never let me go. Even when I had to take a break from her increasingly dark story of being abandoned by her mother and living with an abusive and controlling grandmother, her words stuck with me. They still do. I couldn’t believe how this woman could have lived through such a childhood and come out alive, whole, and productive.

Emerging as a viable adult was a grueling process. She revisited the cities and farm land where she grew up, she walked through the houses where the abusive experiences occurred, she interviewed family members to verify her memories were real, she made peace with her sexually abusive cousin, and she sat with her dying mother by her hospice bedside and actually forgave her.  In the end, she reached her goal of not perpetuating the cycle of abandonment she and her mother both experienced.

Besides being taken in by the compelling story I became enthralled with the music of Linda Joy’s words. She brings in all the senses. She uses metaphor like a master. I experienced the drumbeat and whistles of the always arriving and departing trains, the burgundy and rust colors of the symphonic music she played as a young girl, her grandmother’s slaps on her little girl’s face, the belt strokes on her bare behind in her foster mother’s basement, her father’s inappropriate kisses on her lips, and the heat of the mud that she and her adult daughter sunk into while together at a Calistoga spa.

Ultimately this is a memoir about love and forgiveness. It became that because Linda Joy worked hard at it. She always hoped for her mother to acknowledge her and love her, and almost by brute force hope is fulfilled. Through years of therapy and becoming a therapist herself, Linda Joy finally found peace and forgiveness and learned how to be a loving mother and grandmother herself.

I recommend this book to all memoir writers. Linda Joy provides tips for memoir writing at the end, but the reading of this book is a lesson in itself. She writes the dark and secretive truth. She doesn’t let up on her readers. She says, “…our memoir keeps asking us to open out, to bear witness, and to tell the truth as we know it while coming to terms with what we can bear and how much it might cost to share it.”
Linda Joy
Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D. is the president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers and Co-President of the Women's National Book Association, SF. She's the author of Don't Call Me Mother--A Daughter's Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness (SheWrites Press, February 2013); The Power of Memoir – How to Write Your Healing Story, and A workbook The Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing to be released in 2013. Linda Joy co-teaches the program Write your Memoir in Six Months with Brooke Warner and is a speaker, coach, and online memoir teacher.

Linda Joy’s prizes for fiction, memoir and poetry include: First Prize, Jessamyn West Fiction Contest; Finalist, San Francisco Writing Contest for Secret Music, a novel about the Kindertransport; First Prize, poetry, East of Eden Contest, and First Prize Carol Landauer Life Writing Contest. 


Eleanor Vincent said...

Wow, Madeline, a beautifully written summary of Linda Joy's many strengths as a writer and a person. I'm impressed with both of you!

Unknown said...

Thank you Madeline and Eleanor! Writing a memoir is such a challenging process, but it gives back more than it takes, and it creates ripples of connection between ourselves and others that just keep going! I'm so please to have the two of you as part of the ripples! --Linda Joy

madeline40 said...

Thank you Eleanor and LInda Joy. I am thrilled to be in your good company in this ripples process. Can't wait until we takeover the Bay area book scene. xo

jlnewton said...

You have done a wonderful job capturing the essence of this accomplished memoir. I was amazed by Linda Joy's ability to compel, to hold us close to her experiences as a child and as a woman. It is beautifully written and haunting. I don't think I will ever hear a train whistle without thinking about this book.