Inventing Memory: A Novel of Mothers and Daughters

Inventing Memory: A Novel of Mothers and Daughters

by Erica Jong
     
 

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Narrated by Sarah, who in the year 2005 finds herself drawn into the tumultuous lives of her unconventional ancestors, Inventing Memory   chronicles the lives of Sara's forebears. She calls to memory her great-grandmother Sarah, propelled by a Russian pogrom to America in 1906; her grandmother Salome, who cavorted with Henry Miller in prewar Paris; and

Overview

Narrated by Sarah, who in the year 2005 finds herself drawn into the tumultuous lives of her unconventional ancestors, Inventing Memory   chronicles the lives of Sara's forebears. She calls to memory her great-grandmother Sarah, propelled by a Russian pogrom to America in 1906; her grandmother Salome, who cavorted with Henry Miller in prewar Paris; and finally her mother, Sally, a famous folk singer and emblem of the '60s. Through the paradoxical nature of memory Sarah comes to understand and impart her own story.

Inventing Memory   is the story of all women on the verge of the 21st century and recalls the saga of the 20th-century woman and her heroic struggle to be free. It is Erica Jong's most ambitious, complex and satisfying novel yet.

 

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The author of the renowned Fear of Flying, among other novels, offers a pastiche of fictionalized anecdotes, breezy philosophical pronouncements, and amusing Yiddish homilies ("When a rogue kisses you, count your teeth") in a family saga of four generations of Jewish women creating art (and havoc) in and out of New York.

"Sometimes, in dreams, my first-born son comes back to me," begins Sarah, the long-dead Levitsky family matriarch who narrates her story from beyond the grave. Sarah's infant son, Dovie, was killed in Russia by Cossacks, a tragedy that prompts the indomitable photographer's assistant to flee to America in search of a better life. Beginning her career in a sweatshop, Sarah soon graduates to drawing catalogue illustrations, then painting the portraits of New York's wealthiest. She eventually marries the protective art dealer Lev Levitsky. The Levitskys make a handsome living off Lev's gallery and Sarah's paintings, with their only anxieties centered on their bohemian writer-daughter, Salome, whose life in Paris includes her own literary magazine and an affair with author Henry Miller. Eventually, though, even Salome settles down enough to give birth to beautiful Sally, who grows up to throw herself into the '60s Greenwich Village folk-music scene, quickly becomes a national icon, then proceeds to destroy herself with drugs and alcohol. By then, though, she's produced her own daughter, Sara. Sara's father wins her in a custody dispute, spirits her away to Montana, and refuses to tell her who her mother is. Inevitably, Sara the adult becomes the family chronicler, determined to use Salome's journal, Sally's '60s interviews, and her own musings over a woman's place in history to re-create the past, get to know these women, and assure their immortality.

A clunky but heartfelt work. Still, many of the topics mulled over here (the Jewish immigration to America, the continuing challenges for female artists, women's spirituality) were more effectively addressed in Jong's recent nonfiction

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060179434
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/28/1997
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.16(d)

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Meet the Author

Erica Jong is the author of nineteen books of poetry, fiction, and memoir, including Fear of Flying, which has more than 18 million copies in print worldwide. Her most recent essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, and she is a frequent guest on television talk shows. Currently working on a novel featuring Isadora Wing—the heroine of Fear of Flying—as a woman of a certain age, Erica and her lawyer husband live in New York City and Connecticut. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also an author.

Erica Jong left a Ph.D. program at Columbia to write her ground-breaking novel Fear of Flying, published in 1973. Jong is the author of numerous award-winning books of poetry and novels including Fanny, How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, Any Woman’s Blues, and the forthcoming Sappho’s Leap. She is also the author of the memoir Fear of Fifty. She lives in New York City and Connecticut.

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