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As Always, Jack by Emma Sweeney

As Always, Jack by Emma Sweeney is an epistolary memoir in that letters from Sweeney’s father to her mother are shared with several sections of explanation from Sweeney, herself.  After just 11 days together, Jack and her mother corresponded for a year and a half through letters as he went off to help stabilize the Pacific following WWII.  He wrote 45 letters to her mother over seven months in a oddball courtship that showcase her father’s wit and humor as well as his constant devotion.

In many ways the correspondence allowed the young lovers to get to know one another more intimately without the awkward face-to-face interactions.  They learned about their religious beliefs and their thoughts on infidelity when she tells Jack of her boss’ infidelity with one of the dental assistants.  Emma found her father’s letters to her mother after her mother’s death in the back of a drawer, but she never knew him in person as he died before she was born.

“I never told anyone of my discovery that day.  We lived in a big house, and, with twelve brothers and sisters, my things had a way of disappearing.  I put the letter and the photograph in the small cedar box I kept hidden under my bed.”  (page 4)

Jack was a funny man who liked to play cards and talk to his Bebe as much as he could, begging her for photos and tales of her trips to Florida from Coronado, California.  He made jokes, he took on personas, and he laughed at himself.  He wooed her with humor and honesty, and through his devotion, he garnered her love, which she eventually confessed in a letter to him, or at least that is what Jack says in one of his letters back to her.  What’s missing is her mother’s side of the letters and some explanations as to what Jack is referring to on occasion, but there are notations about dates and times in the letters that clarify some of the timeline.

However, this memoir is not only about the love that endures even through space and time, but also the discovery of a daughter of her true father and mother at time when they were youthful and full of hope.  As Always, Jack by Emma Sweeney is in a way a love letter from a daughter to a father.

About the Author:

Emma Sweeney is the author of several gardening books as well as a literary agent based in New York.  She formed her own agency in 2006 and has had five New York Times bestsellers, including the #1 New York Times best seller, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives and the Women’s Media Group, where she served as its president in 2003. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in English Literature.  She divides her time between New York City and Rhinebeck, New York.

If you’d like to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment on this post with an email address.  Deadline to enter is July 20, 2012; This is open GLOBALLY.

This is my 49th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge 2012.

All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith is the memoir of one college professor’s journey through Latin America discussing Jane Austen’s books with book clubs and having a misadventure of her own that changes her life.  Her enthusiasm for the trip is infectious.

“Was I nervous about spending a year away from family and friends, trying to function in a foreign language I had a tenuous grip on while convincing several dozen people in six different countries to join me for book groups? Hell, yeah.  Was I excited about the trip anyway? Hell, yeah.” (page xiii ARC)

She decides to discover if Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Emma can carry the same sway with Latin and South Americans that it does with Americans and Europeans.  She visits not only Mexico and Guatemala, but also Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, and she finds that underneath all the stereotypes and prejudices, each of has a base need for family, acceptance, love, and support.  Smith’s memoir highlights not only her insecurities about committed relationships and her conscious efforts to avoid stereotyping or relying on her assumptions of various cultures when meeting new people, but also her quirkiness at making each temporary apartment or hotel feel more like a home by decorating it with statues, blankets, and other items.  She’s also like many readers, a book collector and completely helpless when it comes to saying no to books in a bookstore.  Her over-packed luggage and rising airport fees are a testament to her journey to South American and Latin American bookstores, especially as she seeks recommendations who compare to Jane Austen from the local residents.  All the while, she’s learning Spanish and immersing herself in the language at every turn.

“One of the fun features of Spanish that English lacks is the capacity to create nouns that express behaviors out of other nouns or verbs.  So a dog is un perro, and behaving like a dog to somebody (see how many words that takes?) is una perrada.  Behaving like un burro (donkey) translates into una burrada and un cochino (a pig), una cochinada.”  (page 21 ARC)

There are moments when she falls ill and cannot recall the names of the book group members, which readers may find a bit disrespectful given the time these men and women gave her for the book group discussions.  What would really have added to the memoir would have been better descriptions of the places she went or saw or perhaps the inclusion of pictures from some of these locations.  However, these are minor quibbles given the societal and social insights the memoir provides as a bungling American travels through unfamiliar countries.  More than a discussion of Jane Austen and her books, All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith is an examination of one woman’s journey through other worlds and learning how to go with the flow and find her own happiness in a world that moves blindingly.

About the Author:

Amy Elizabeth Smith, originally from Pennsylvania, teaches writing and literature at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Her memoir, All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane (Sourcebooks, June 1, 2012) recounts her year spent learning Spanish and holding Austen reading groups in Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina.

This is my 48th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge 2012.

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler With David Dalton

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler with David Dalton is my first rock n’ roll memoir.  Steven Tyler, lead singer for Aerosmith, always struck me as very Bohemian, and he even says as much in his memoir.  Readers will be surprised to find that the memoir is Steven Tyler telling his story and not some writer’s idea of what his story should sound like.  It’s not prettied up.  As the pages turn, readers will find that Tyler remembers a great many details, even street names and house/apartment numbers.

(Aerosmith was considered a Boston band, and many were thrilled when the band set up Mama Kin Music Hall.  The band was often considered the bad boys of Boston, and the closure of the club caused some angst among followers who felt the band had snubbed its nose at the hometown.  But I digress.)

There is a no-holds-barred quality to the writing and the story in this memoir, but that’s just how readers would want it.  From his early influences of piano played . . . more like breathed . . . by his father to his drug use and religious upbringing as a Bronx native who summered in New Hampshire, all sides of Steven Tyler are exposed.  His childhood seemed pretty typical for any boy with artistic parents, with summers in the country, a love of animals, hunting and fishing, and being overzealous about girls and just about everything.  His family moved to Yonkers and he was enrolled in a private school.

Tyler’s memoir is a bit of back and forth as memories seem to crop up and send him off in new directions, but readers will get a good sense of how he is on a daily basis with this kind of narration.  Drinking, drugs, and girls are his main vices, but the music is a constant as he jams with his father’s band as a young teenager on drums and eventually grows into his own as a musician.

Tyler loves capitalizing words for emphasis and he does “talk” to himself from time to time.  Readers put off by swears and other vulgar language may find the memoir to gritty, but for a rock n’ roll artist, what else can be expected.  An unexpected surprise throughout the book are snippets of poems, though it is not clear when exactly they were written or why.  Readers also will learn about musical terms from dissonance to fifth notes, etc.

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? provides readers with an inside look at what it means to be a rock musician, what makes them great at what they do, and how they can maintain their success over the long term in spite of the downfalls and obstacles they face.  Steven Tyler offers more than just an inside look at his life; he’s offering an inside look at music, artistry, and the drive to succeed along the way.

 

This is my 58th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

Seeking help at a drug abuse treatment center is necessary for people who have been abusing drugs for a long time.

Semper Cool by Barry Fixler

Semper Cool by Barry Fixler is a memoir of one marine’s time before, during, and after the Vietnam War.  Fixler’s writing style is accessible for all readers, though some who have read a number of military books may find themselves skipping over definitions of terms they already know, which are defined for less experienced military readers.  Through clear sentence structure, fast-paced flashbacks, and frankness about boot camp and other aspects of a marine’s training, readers get a feel for the grit these men must have to survive boot camp and beyond.

“If you were alive, that meant your unit was in one of the less dangerous places in Vietnam.  If you were a basket case, your unit was in a pretty bad place.  If you were dead, that meant you were headed straight into the deep shit.  Your unit was in the middle of the worst of the worst combat.”  (page 80 of ARC)

Fixler became obsessed with the U.S. Marines after hearing crazy stories from his father, a WWII veteran who survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor, about the rigorous training marines endured even during war and the antics they engaged in.  These stories, plus his father’s patriotism helped fuel Fixler’s desire to enter the military to find direction and discipline shortly after graduating high school.  At age 19, Fixler was a “green” marine with no combat experience, and men who were considered seasoned were generally in their early- to mid-20s.

Readers are taken on a journey through Fixler’s latter adolescent years, the trouble he caused with his friends, and the decision to enter the military, which he kept from his parents until the day before he shipped off to boot camp.  Once in boot camp, readers learn first hand what it means to become a marine in the physical and mental sense, and this foundation is what carries Fixler, a survivor of the 77-day siege of Khe Sanh or Hill 861-A, through his time in Vietnam.  When the subtitle suggest fond memories from Vietnam, the author is serious about the relationships he forged, the discipline he learned, the mental toughness he created for himself, and the achievements he made while in country.

“Minutes before, we were talking about home, watching through binoculars,’ Mike said years later, ‘and the mortars started coming in and he was completely disintegrated, no head at all.'”  (page 173)

However, readers should be prepared for blood, guts, horror, and disappointments, but those are tempered with moments of incredible luck — even what some would call miracles — and hilarity.  There are odd moments in which Fixler seems to remind himself of a moment before the war, and the narration sometimes takes a turn that is unexpected and outside the scope of the war and his military life.  While initially, these moments can jolt the reader out of the narrative flow, they help to give readers a fuller picture of Fixler’s character.

Semper Cool is a well-balanced war memoir that illustrates the good and the bad that comes with war and returning home.  Fixler’s story deviates from the typical memoir or war novel in which the atmosphere is constantly grim and dire or the protagonist is spiraling out of control mentally.  The main takeaways from this memoir are believe in yourself, remain focused, and achieve success in all you set out to do.

***It is great knowing that proceeds from the sale of this book will be shared with those military personnel in need of medical assistance that the government has either forgotten, run out of money to care for, or does not know have fallen through the cracks.***

About the Author:

After graduating from Syosset High School in Long Island, New York, Barry Fixler enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp and was shipped off to Vietnam where he fought as a member of Echo Company at the legendary Siege of Khe Sanh. He is now a jeweler living in Bardonia, New York, with his wife Linda.

Please check out the Semper Cool Website.

Yes, the Vietnam War Reading Challenge ended in 2010, but I wish I had read Semper Cool by Barry Fixler then.  Thankfully, it qualifies for this year’s Wish I’d Read that Challenge and the New Authors Reading Challenge.

This is my 4th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

This is my 1st book for the 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge.

Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton

Linda Gray Sexton, an author of memoir and fiction, tackles the issues of depression, suicide, and family legacies in her latest memoir, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide.  In case you haven’t deduced on your own who her famous mother is, it is Anne Sexton one of the greatest American confessional poets, who successfully committed suicide in October 1974 after battling depression for years by locking herself in the garage and dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

“The other families in our neighborhood looked nothing like my own family.  My father did not run the family, nor did my mother.  It was my mother’s illness that had seized control.  My adulation of her was not tempered by the fact that she was mentally ill.  We never used the word ‘crazy’ — though when the ambulance arrived in the driveway to take her away, the neighborhood children whispered that Mrs. Sexton was nuts again.”  (page 59)

Half in Love is far from an easy read as Linda details not only her mother’s struggles with depression and suicide, but also the violent and sometimes inappropriate relationships within the family.  The legacy of suicide is clear as Linda discusses her college years, her marriage, and the birth of her children.  The “rabbit hole” is often used to describe the downward spiral Linda and her mother descend into without necessarily being triggered by a specific event.  Some of the details about institutionalization, attempts at suicide are detailed and will make readers turn away from the page, but they are necessary to convey the depth at which these women fell away from the real world into the darkness that obscured their reasons for hope.

“Unconsciously, my mother had bequeathed to me two entirely unique legacies, and they were inextricably and mysteriously entwined:  the compulsion to create with words, as well as the compulsion to stare down into the abyss of suicide.  Both compulsions have been with me for as long as I can remember.”  (page 23)

Despite a carefully outlined plan to avoid her mother’s fate, Linda finds that she has unwittingly stepped on the same path to suicide and also has become a confessional fiction author rather than confessional poet.  When Linda becomes a mother herself and realizes just how much she inherited from her mother in terms of mental illness, she becomes concerned and wonders how much she should tell her sons about the family legacy, while her husband wishes to shield them from “prophecies” that may or may not come true.

Half in Love is about the struggle with depression and suicide, but it also is about falling “half in love” with the idea of a famous poet and her legacy in spite of the rational reasons to distance oneself from that dangerous family legacy and live a “normal” life.   Readers will be absorbed in the author’s struggles and the struggles of her mother, but in spite of these struggles there is something to “love” about these women.  In a way larger parallels between a young Linda and the greater society can be drawn about falling in love with the darker sides of life that enabled her mother, Anne Sexton, to become one of the most famous poets of her time.  But this is not just Anne’s story, but a story of a family continuously torn apart, repaired, and fragmented — possibly irreparably.

***Reading this memoir prompted me to highlight one of Anne Sexton’s poems during the Virtual Poetry Circle last week.  Please feel free to join the continued discussion.***

About the Author:

Linda Gray Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1953 and graduated from Harvard University in 1975. She is the daughter of the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Anne Sexton, and has edited several books of her mother’s poetry and a book of her mother’s letters, as well as writing a memoir about her life with her mother, “Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton.” “Rituals,” “Mirror Images,” “Points of Light,” and “Private Acts” are her four published and widely read novels. “Points of Light” was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame Special for television.

Check out the other stops on The TLC Book Tour.

This is my 2nd book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (audio)

Aron Ralston, if you are not yet familiar wit his amazing recovery from being trapped in a Utah canyon, reads this abridged edition of his memoir, 127 Hours:  Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  In only five discs, listeners will get lessons in climbing equipment and the actual stamina and skill involved in hiking treacherous terrain out west.  Ralston is a man who often likes to hike and climb alone to commune with nature, but also to be with himself in a way that allows him to just be and assess his own life.

Listeners are walking beside Ralston as he tells his tale, climbing steep canyons with him, and feeling the agony and pain of dehydration, starvation, and major blood loss.  His enthusiasm for the outdoors and climbing are infectious.

127 Hours is a gripping real life tale of a human struggle alone in the wilderness and the enduring nature of hope and humanity.  Ralston’s struggle is immediate and harrowing.  The audio, especially narrated by the actual subject of the tragic event, is mesmerizing and even disturbing in its detail.  Overall, this is one of the best audio books of the year.  It is more than just a story about a man’s struggle and courage, but about what he does following tragedy to change his life and appreciate the friends and family he has.

My husband and I listened to this audio on the commute to and from work.  My husband says the best part of the book is how the narrator describes the process through which he amputates his arm to miss his major veins and nerves until the harder parts are severed, etc.  There is a true sense of how the human spirit seeks ways to keep the body going, and how the body keeps going regardless of moments of weakness in human will.  Ralston explains his plight really well.  Very profound and memorable.

***Thanks to Eco-Libris and the Green Books Campaign for sending us this wonderful prize.***

This is my 61st book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.

Government Girl by Stacy Parker Aab

Stacy Parker Aab’s Government Girl chronicles her time in the White House during the Clinton Administration from the age of 18 to her early 20s.  Expecting the bulk of the memoir to be about the Monica Lewinsky scandal or the like would be a mistake, although Monica’s fall from grace could have just as well been Stacy’s story if she did not have the personal drive to achieve more, live within the confines of her duties and principles, and focus on self-satisfaction.

“You want acknowledgment — all that comes when you’ve done a good job, when you’re so deserving.  You want that light.  That hand on your shoulder.  At least if you’re like me and this sort of loving affirmation from authority figures still feeds you, even if you wish it would not.”  (Page 13 of ARC)

Being young and in politics, Stacy had a daunting task of navigating an adult world when she was not quite secure in her self-identity and still evolving as a woman.  She’s a product of a single mother, an alcoholic father, and her mixed heritage as an African-American with a mostly unknown-to-her German ancestry.  All of these elements come into play as she navigates the White House media and policy web and the knotted ropes of her possible career ladder.

“Maybe it was like going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and seeing a rubber version of yourself blown up and ‘walking’ with the help of a dozen attendants, this version of you more than ten stories tall, knowing that your celebrity was just that, something outside you, something as big and as vulnerable as giant balloons”  (Page 87 of ARC)

The narrative of this memoir is smooth in its transitions between her intern days and her past in Troy, Michigan.  The struggles of family life and the dedication of her mother to help her out with schooling expenses and other costs clearly influenced Stacy’s drive for financial independence, even if the job opportunities at the time were not the most fun.  Politics is at the forefront of her work in the White House, but it often takes a backseat to her internal struggle to become a strong, independent woman with a clear idea of where she wishes to be and what she wishes to achieve.

“Working, I wanted that feeling of rowing on the Potomac River, that feeling in the eight with all of us pulling our oars.  Sixteen arms and sixteen legs powering that slim boat forward, as we were lead by our coxswain, as our coach called out to us from his motorized boat nearby.”  (Page 39 of ARC)

In many ways, what drives Stacy is the hole inside her — an absence of fatherly love — as she falls into transient relationships with co-workers, fellow students, and others.  While this desire to fill this emptiness does little to improve her romantic life, it does often push her to perfection in her work life.  In terms of memoir, readers will find Government Girl is deliberate, vivid, and eye-opening — especially in terms of behind-the-scenes politics.  Readers will find Stacy’s prose frank and honest, almost like a friend telling a portion of her life story to another friend.

Please stay tuned for a guest post from Stacy Parker Aab on Feb. 2, 2010.

Interested in winning 1 of 3 copies of her book (US/Canada only, sorry), please visit this giveaway link.

About the Author:  (Photo credit: David Wentworth)

Writer, blogger, and former political aide, Stacy Parker Aab served for five years in the Clinton White House, first as a long-time intern in George Stephanopoulos’s office, and later as an assistant to Paul Begala. She traveled as a presidential advance person, preparing and staffing trips abroad for the president and Mrs. Clinton. She also served as a special assistant for Gov. David Paterson in New York.  Please check out her Website.

Also check out this video where she talks about her memoir:

If you are interested in Government Girl, please check out the rest of the TLC Book Tour.

I’m also counting this as my 7th book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.

FTC Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Government Girl from the publisher for a TLC Book Tour and review.  Clicking on title links or images will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary. 

Words That Burn Within Me by Hilda Stern Cohen

Hilda Stern Cohen’s Words That Burn Within Me is a collection of photographs, essays, stories, snippets of interviews, and poems detailing Cohen’s experiences during WWII and the Holocaust as a German resident.  (Please check out a recent reading from the book at The Writer’s Center).  Cohen’s husband, whom she married in Baltimore, Md., in 1948 following her release, discovered her notebooks after her death and set about his journey to have his wife’s writing translated from German and published.  In some cases, the poems are included both in English and in German.

“Our physiognomies were ageless.  There were wild, unfocused eyes, silent, indrawn lips, and haggardness around the cheek and neck . . . only defined and exaggerated by hunger.” (Page 49)

This harrowing story follows Hilda through her early years in Nieder-Ohmen, Germany, and her transfer to schools in Frankfurt as the Nazis gained power.  From Frankfurt, she is transported with her family and young beau Horst to Lodz, Poland, only to face devastating circumstances, the loss of Horst, and more and be transported to Auschwitz.  In a series of essays and interviews, Hilda talks about happier times in her village and with her sister, the trials of childhood and being bullied, but soon the reality of politics sets in and her family is forced to leave their ancestral home.

Forced Labor (Page 54)

My numbed brow drops on the machine,
I fold my captive, tired hands.

A dangling yellow bulb sheds smoky light,
Dusk falls, the day grows pale.

The harried working hours are almost done,
The evening mist is waiting to embrace us.

What binds us in our common chains
Will only hold us while we work —
Night will find each of us in separate gloom.

Cohen’s writing is sparse but detailed in its observations of those around her in the ghetto and the concentration camps.  Her keen eye examines the impact of starvation on her fellow neighbors and on her family members, and it also sheds light on how well her family and herself cope with their situation.  She eventually teaches herself Yiddish after joining a literary group because she only speaks and writes German, which is not what the majority of the Lodz Ghetto understands.  Readers, however, will note a sense of detachment in her writing, almost as if she is reporting the events as she observed them rather than as she felt them.  On the other hand, they will hear the anger and disappointment in her voice, especially when she speaks of the last words her father utters about her mother upon her death.

“There was a strange role reversal that took place psychologically, as it did also later in the camps.  Adults who had lived a life from which they had gained certain expectations were suddenly confronted with an abyss.  There were no signs, no gateposts, none of the usual milestones that one could follow.  Everything had fallen away.”  (Page 33)

Words That Burn Within Me is well assembled mixture of interviews with Hilda Stern Cohen’s essays, stories and poems.  While the collection does illustrate one Jewish woman’s journey during WWII and the Holocaust, it stands as a testament — a record — of how inexcusably these humans were treated and how their debasement impacted their lives, their relationships, their faith, and their souls.  Through well tuned description and controlled emotions, Cohen takes the time to record everything she saw during the war and the Holocaust to ensure that it becomes a warning to others.  A powerful collection and a must read for anyone learning about this time period and the horrors that should never have happened.

This is my 10th book for the WWII Reading Challenge at War Through the Generations!

I’m not sure if this will qualify for the Poetry Review Challenge, but if it does, this will be book #10.

 FTC Disclosure:  I purchased my copy of Words That Burn Within Me from The Writer’s Center following a reading by Hilda Stern Cohen’s husband and her interviewer Gail Rosen.  Clicking on image and title links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchases necessary.

Princess of the Oddballs

Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip takes the reader into her past with all of its quirky star sightings, stalkings, and encounters. Those are just the tidbits to entice you into her journey of self-discovery. From her obsessions with famous women, like Carly Simon and Carole King, to her obsessions with becoming famous as a jailbird rockstar she invented, Carlip revisits her inner demons of low self-esteem. The year-on-year lists of events in the outer social world preceding each chapter are a great trip down memory lane.

The antics in her teen years with fire-eating and juggling are hilarious. Her alternative lifestyle in the book has less to do with her sexual orientation than it does with her ability to stick to her convictions and achieve the near impossible, like writing scripts and getting them made into films and plays. Her first book, Girl Power, made it to the Oprah show–and much like my dreams and many others–the actual experience did not reach her expectations. I imagine being on the Oprah show with my first book, sitting on stage with Oprah herself, who will gush over my fiction work. Now, that I’ve read Queen of the Oddballs I know that there could be an alternate ending to that fantasy–one in which I am in the audience and others are asked questions about the book and their contributions while I sit in the audience and stare, appalled. Ok, so I would not be writing a memoir or nonfiction piece, but it could happen with a fiction novel.

Overall, this is a quick read and entertaining beyond anyone’s expectations. I had a great time reading this book and getting to know the author, Hillary Carlip. This was a great recommendation from my friend Sarah.

Places in My Bones…

Though I have not had cancer or breast cancer for that matter, it probably would seem odd that a memoir about a cancer survivor would get to me that much, but it did. I may not have cried while reading the book, but Carol Dine’s Places in the Bone reaches into the soul of the reader and pulls at the heart strings and a number of other senses through poetry, journal entries, and prose.

This book is not only a journey through her cancer ordeal, but also through her familial struggles with her father and mother. The distance between her sister and herself as a result of these struggles and how she copes. I have one of her poetry books slated on my to read list, but this memoir gives the reader a clear perspective on how these struggles infuse her poetry with palpable imagery and insight. For example, “When the heel of my father’s hand/pounds my back,/I focus on the bedroom wall./I am walking beside the reservoir./ The oaks are giants/taller than him;/”

Her past relations with the likes of Anne Sexton and Stanley Kunitz also play a significant role in her ability to cope with the realities of her treatment and her growing frustration with the relationship she had with her father, mother, and sister. I admire Dine’s ability to connect words to express her frustration, her anguish, her hopelessness, and her resilience.

Dine teaches at Suffolk University, my alma mater, though I never had the pleasure of her company in the classroom. However, I will never forget her generosity in helping out a fellow poet, floundering when her mentor turned her down; she agreed to sponsor my poems for an emerging writers contest for Ploughshares. Even though I did not win the contest, her kindness inspired me to keep going.