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Posted April 2, 2004
I was first introduced to Scofield's bright and tight prose last summer, and read two of her novels before coming to her memoir. For writers and readers interested in the cross-fertilization between fiction and reality, reading her latest novel, Plain Seeing, and then reading Occasions of Sin provides a great object lesson in the entwining of the two. Events that might appear resolved in the novel are unraveled in the memoir, only to be reknit in a different pattern. And what permeates most strongly from Occasions of Sin is the mature and forgiving voice of the narrator/author, who cuts a slice of life, observes it with compassion, humor, and a healthy distance, and shares it with the world. It is at once a testimony and a quiet, unsentimental celebration of a particular family, whose members endure through poverty and illness, adapt, and move on. I am now reading Leila Ahmed's A Border Passage, which is also a memoir about a young woman coming to age in a family life and culture governed by religion. While Scofield's story takes place mostly in Texas, and is structured around her mother's adoption of Catholicism, Ahmed's privileged childhood was spent in Cairo and Alexandria, and was governed by Islam. Still, I found some interesting and powerful threads running through the two works.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 29, 2004
OCCASIONS OF SIN is not simply the story of growing up in the middle of America in the middle of the 20th Century. Seeking the source of her own identity, the author describes her innocent presence in the life of her mother who sought redemption for herself and, in her political activity, redemption for her country.As I read it, Scofield's memoir is more than a recollection of her growing up and of her mother's. It is a view of the time and place through the eyes of innocents, of innocence. We recall that sexuality is a natural instinct and that poverty is caused by other powers, not by the powerless victims. Condemnation imposed on the innocent victims brings into question what are the real sins and who are the real sinners.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.