Inventing Memory: A Novel of Mothers and Daughters

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Spanning a hundred years, Inventing Memory brilliantly interweaves the lives of four generations of unforgettable women, from the turn of the last century to the early years of the twenty-first century. Propelled out of 1905 Russia by a pogrom in which she loses her first child, her twin brother, and her father, Sarah Solomon arrives in an America of bowler hats, Irish cops, elevated subway cars, Jewish and Italian anarchists, and labor ferment. Establishing herself as an artist, Sarah lives with and loves two ...
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Inventing Memory: A Novel of Mothers and Daughters

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Overview

Spanning a hundred years, Inventing Memory brilliantly interweaves the lives of four generations of unforgettable women, from the turn of the last century to the early years of the twenty-first century. Propelled out of 1905 Russia by a pogrom in which she loses her first child, her twin brother, and her father, Sarah Solomon arrives in an America of bowler hats, Irish cops, elevated subway cars, Jewish and Italian anarchists, and labor ferment. Establishing herself as an artist, Sarah lives with and loves two very different men: a landsman, Lev Levitsky, and Sim Coppley, a proper New York WASP who is in love with all things Jewish, including her. While Sarah and Lev embark on an artistic life together that will take them west to a newly established Hollywood, their wild, flapper daughter and avant-garde writer, Salome, cavorts in 1929 Paris with the likes of Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and Gertrude Stein, until she learns a shocking secret that compels her to search for her WASP roots. Salome's daughter, Sally, destined to become one of the 1960's most famous folksingers, is struck like lightning by fame, and with it the ravages of a counterculture that wreaked havoc upon the lives of so many young artists. We meet Sally - and all of these women - through her daughter, Sara. Born in 1978, trained as an historian and in the process of researching her family history at the prestigious Council on Jewish History in New York, Sara finds herself drawn into the tumultuous lives of her ancestors via a sepia-tone photograph of her great-grandmother Sarah, for whom she was named. A single mother with a young daughter, Sara absorbs all she can of the strength of her great-grandmother and grandmother, and tries to make peace with the ghost of her own neglectful mother; she comes to understand the paradoxical, subjective nature of memory, and the way we invent, reinvent, and assimilate our ancestors. With Inventing Memory, Erica Jong has written the saga of four generations o
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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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060179434
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Erica Jong

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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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2011

    Learning about the past

    We are a composite of the collection of our past and in Inventing Memory by Erica Jong interweaves the lives of four generations of women.
    This story takes you to the turn of the last century to the early years of the twenty-first century.
    You discover the wonders and excitement of Paris with the glow and hardship of America. Filled with love, life, and a bit of lust, these strong women result from a strong stock.
    You will rejoice in taking the passage on learning about the past only to unlock the secrets of the present.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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