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A Postcard Memoir

A Postcard Memoir
  • Subjects: Literature & Fiction, Essays
  • Tags: , ,
  • Price: $13.57
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555973043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555973049
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

From Publishers Weekly

Sutin's ingeniously constructed memoir uses duotone reproductions of --by turns nostalgic, quaint or exotic--as Rorschach blots to evoke his deepest memories and feelings. In his previous memoir, Jack and Rochelle, Sutin chronicled the relationship between his father, a hero of the Jewish anti-Nazi resistance in Poland, and his mother, who escaped from a Nazi ghetto into the Polish woods where she hid and fought Germans; both emigrated to America at war's end. As the son of Holocaust survivors, Sutin, who was born in 1951 and grew up in Minneapolis/St. Paul, carried a special burden of grief and pain--and an urgent need to give his meaning. Here he writes about typical events--Little League, his discovery of sex, bar mitzvah, past loves--but imbues his reminiscences of adolescent insecurity with a rueful, forgiving wisdom. After attending experimental Antioch College in the late '60s and a stint as a starry-eyed aspiring writer in Paris in 1973, maturity came with marriage, fatherhood and stepfatherhood. The Postcards, which range from Michelangelo to Hollywood midgets to scenes of Bolivia, Idaho, Bombay and Bethlehem, are a screen on which Sutin projects his recollections, dreams and musings. But here's the catch: none of the people depicted in the Postcards, and very few of the settings, are from Sutin's own Life. Between each image and the corresponding text, odd juxtapositions and eerie or hilarious disjunctions fly like sparks, amplifying Sutin's memories and puncturing his wild fantasies. The past is what we make of it, he insists in this evocative if elusive postmodernist hall of mirrors. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Taking an unusual approach to memoir writing, Sutin, an award-winning memoirist and biographer, organizes episodes of his Life around his antique postcard collection. An avid collector since a postcard of a mosque caught his eye in 1973, he sees the Postcards as entries into his unconscious. Each one triggers a memory from Sutin's Life, revealing a warm, reflective, and quirky personality. His wide-ranging subjects include such vignettes as a fifth-grade trip to a potato chip factory, visiting his father's place of business, working as a railroad lineman, and trying to quiet his crying infant daughter. These brief reminiscences, playful yet serious, sound realistic sometimes, fantastical at others. In their brevity, they reveal Sutin's considerable skill in capturing an incident or feeling in an enticing way with a witty, poetic sensibility. This book will appeal to those interested in exploring an innovative approach to the memoir. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DNancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Lib.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Sutin, a memoirist and biographer, began buying old on a whim and found that they "offered a way to shatter the mirror of the everyday." Portraits of strangers and buildings, landscapes, and oddly contrived scenes, these frozen moments blazed in his imagination like drive-in movie screens on otherwise pitch-black summer nights, eventually prompting him to create this funny, lyrical, and quirkily illustrated memoir. Each postcard faces the vignette it inspired, and the back-and-forthing this juxtaposition engenders is pure pleasure, as is Sutin's resonant prose. The child of Holocaust survivors, Sutin is intimate with sorrow and fear, but he is also blessed with a supple sense of humor. As he sets out each enigmatic postcard like a personal tarot, he inventively reimagines the story of his fantasy-rich boyhood, at-sea adolescence, and slowly liberating adulthood. Rich in unexpected associations and genuine wisdom, Sutin's episodic memoir is a travelogue through the growth of a mind and a journey to love. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"This is a delightful little book, as full of shifts and surprises as the kind of transparent kaleidoscope that reorders what it looks at. I sincerely like the man who's constructed himself out of these vignettes, his candor and vulnerability balanced by a critical intelligence and wit. Best of all, he seems wise to himself without cynicism, to the curiosity and moodiness of his younger self and the more secure commitments of his maturity. A Postcard Memoir is the kind of book I'd secretly like to slip into my friends' back pockets, marked READ ME."--Rosellen Brown
"Like Kafka in a ."--Judith Katz

From the Inside Flap

Drawing upon his collection of quirky antique Postcards, Lawrence Sutin has penned a series of brief but intense reminiscences of his "ordinary" Life. In the process, he creates an unrepentant, wholly unique account about learning to live with a consciousness all his own. Ranging from remembered events to inner states to full-blown fantasies, Sutin is at turns playful and somber, rhapsodic and mundane, funny and full of pathos. Here you'll find tales about science teachers and other horrors of adolescence, Life in a comedy troupe, stepfathering--each illustrated with the postcard that triggered Sutin's muse--and presented in a mix so enticingly wayward as to prove that at least some of it really happened.
"This is a delightful little book, as full of shifts and surprises as the kind of transparent kaleidoscope that reorders what it looks at. I sincerely like the man who's constructed himself out of these vignettes, his candor and vulnerability balanced by a critical intelligence and wit. Best of all, he seems wise to himself without cynicism, to the curiosity and moodiness of his younger self and the more secure commitments of his maturity. A Postcard Memoir is the kind of book I'd secretly like to slip into my friends' back pockets, marked READ ME."--Rosellen Brown
Lawrence Sutin
is an award-winning memoirist and biographer. His books include Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance; Divine Invasions: A of Philip K. Dick; and the forthcoming Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley. Sutin teaches in the M.F.A. program at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

From the Back Cover

"Like Kafka in a Good Mood."--Judith Katz

About the Author

Lawrence Sutin is an award-winning memoirist and biographer. His books include Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance; Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick; and the forthcoming Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley. Sutin teaches in the M.F.A. program at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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