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Showing posts from July, 2012

Eugenides' The Marriage Plot - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads About First Love

First Love. Like a parental relationship, it can haunt the rest of our lives. There is nothing so sweet as loving and/or being loved - deeply appreciating and/or appreciating another perhaps for the first time, but certainly for the first time with someone who does not "have" to love you - a parent, a sibling - but someone who chooses to do so - not because you're their's but because they want you to be their own. Jeffrey Eugenides' Novel is about such a love - but with the advantage of hindsight - and, I think, as an attempt, and I hope a satisfying one, to put that first love to bed. It seemed helpful to me, as a reader, in any case.

The novel focuses on a triangle, but really a conga line, of lovers - all students at Brown in the late seventies and early 80s. Leonard is the brilliant but unstable bipolar child of absent parents who evokes sympathy and care from a string of women but ultimately from Madeleine. Maddy is a good girl from a solid home who …

Nat Johnson's Pym - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads About Race

Last year there was no Pulitzer Prize for fiction awarded. This award, usually given annually, recognizes the best writing published during the year that captures some central aspect of the American experience. Over the years, the Pulitzer Prize has been awarded to exceptional books that have become part of our shared experience - To Kill a Mockingbird is an example of this category - and they have been awarded to authors who should have had a Pulitzer for their earlier work and the current book is good and somewhat related to the American experience - Ernest Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea falls in this category. But the committee could not come to a consensus about either. The New York Times asked authors to nominate books, and Maud Newton nominated Nat Johnson's Pym as a modern look at race with a Vonnegut-like wry humor.

As a fan of the Pulitzer, Vonnegut, and a person who is curious about race, especially about the subjectivity of cross racial experiences, I bit. Initial…

Anne Sexton - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads about Poetry and Psychotherapy

Dawn Skorczewski has written a marvelous book, An Accident of Hope, about Anne Sexton's poetry and her psychotherapy with Milton Orne in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Skorczewski listened to all of the extant tapes of the psychotherapy sessions Sexton had with Orne and chose to focus on the recorded sessions that have survived from the last nine months or so of Sexton's treatment. Dawn is a friend of mine, and I must admit that I was not looking forward to reading the book. I thought,"Oh, OK, I'll propose it to the analytic book club and, if they are interested, that will give me a chance to say that I have read it." Dawn is a vibrant person, a good writer and editor who has taught me a lot about writing - and teaching, but I'm not a big fan of poetry, it's just not my genre, and visiting a poet I did not know from around the time of my (and Dawn's) birth and thinking about the antiquated therapy she had undergone just didn't sound exc…