Cantwell’s writing in American Girl is just as good as Manhattan, When I Was Young, though it’s a little more impressionistic. Perhaps that’s I found it less satisfying than its sequel. I still recommend it. Should I bother with the third of the Trilogy, Speaking with Strangers?
Tagged with childhood
If you read anthologies (or comp zines) you know that they're always uneven in quality and focus. The most common thread I found in Only Child, both thematically and content-wise is a self-consciousness. There are more than the usual amount of asides, parentheticals, and explanations, which I think makes sense for people accustomed to having so much attention aimed their way. Many of the writers cited having all of their parents' love and affection to themselves as a childhood experience. I know when eyes are on me I feel more self-conscious, like if the Pilates class instructor praises me, I inevitably mess up the next exercise, as if to show that I'm not special, I'm the same as everyone else. But of course no one cares. In Pilates you're not looking at anyone else. That is one place where navel gazing is not only okay; it's the rule. Same with these only child authors, but they haven't had siblings beat "no one cares" into them, lucky dogs.
During the machine recount I kept the TV on in my studio. It was impossible to work with the TV going but I couldn't turn it off.
TV: Bush's lead is, like, shrinking.
LB: I swear. Ten more minutes.
TV: Or is it?
LB: Then I'll turn it off.
LB: Shh. I'll feed you guys in a sec.
Three dogs: EEE! EE-EE. YEEE!
LB: Wait. Twenty minutes. That's it.
LB: Ok. Half an hour.
By the time the manual recounts began, I stopped working altogether. This was bad. Even with the TV off I couldn't concentrate. Why?
LB: C'mon! Clear your mind! Stop thinking about Katherine Harris! Write.
LB: Katherine Harris. Katherine Harris.
LB: This is insane.
New! Favorite! Book! Ms. Barry covers some similar turf as she does in The Good Times Are Killing Me, but O!H!D! covers a broader spectrum of her "autobiofictionalography," plus it's illustrated. In color--over 200 pages. I'm impressed Sasquatch Books was able to put this out for $24.95 in '02. Barry did some zen painting exercise where the artist explores her demons, and this is the result. She shares 17 of hers with us, mostly about her childhood and adolescence, but a few take place in grown up life.