Prufrock's Page

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Daughter's Point of View

First reports of Janna Malamud Smith's memoir (earlier mentioned here) are trickling in. In Forward, Mark Oppenheimer writes of discovering that Bernard Malamud "had a long-term affair with one of his students at Bennington College. He was also a rather distant father, and he could be sadly indifferent to his wife's feelings. He wasn't a monster, just a small-time dabbler in loutishness."

Fortunately, "Smith has forgiven Dad. Her memoir of their relationship quotes at length from her father's letters to friends (and to his mistress), and that willingness to allow her father to speak for himself is, like the book itself, an act of generosity. Smith doesn't seem in the business of judging; her father died in 1986, and she is past the pain and the regret. Her book is an act of reflection, often analysis. It's the story of a girl coming of age on college campuses, the daughter of a sad man whose fame only slowly catches up with his talent."

He quotes a poignant recollection from the book. The daughter writes: "He willed himself on. As a little girl in Oregon, I'd hear him shaving in the bathroom, on the bad days cursing quietly to himself, on the good ones announcing to all within range, firmly, audibly, 'Someday I'm going to win.' "


Post a Comment

<< Home