Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life

Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life

by bell hooks
     
 

Wounds of Passion is a memoir about writing, love, and sexuality. With her customary boldness and insight, Bell Hooks critically reflects on the impact of birth control and the women's movement on our lives. Resisting the notion that love and writing don't mix, she begins a fifteen-year relationship with a gifted poet and scholar, who inspires and encourages her.

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Overview

Wounds of Passion is a memoir about writing, love, and sexuality. With her customary boldness and insight, Bell Hooks critically reflects on the impact of birth control and the women's movement on our lives. Resisting the notion that love and writing don't mix, she begins a fifteen-year relationship with a gifted poet and scholar, who inspires and encourages her. Writing the acclaimed book Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism at the age of nineteen, she begins to emerge as a brilliant social critic and public intellectual. Wounds of Passion describes a woman's struggle to devote herself to writing, sharing the difficulties, the triumphs, the pleasures, and the dangers. Eloquent and powerful, this book lets us see the ways one woman writer works to find her own voice while creating a love relationship based on feminist thinking. With courage and wisdom she reveals intimate details and provocative ideas, offering an illuminating vision of a writer's life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a consistently fresh and bravely honest voice, hooks relates her early development as a feminist writer and scholar and examines the struggle to practice in her private life what she supports in theory. On the more personal level, the book centers on her liaison with a man seven years her senior named Mack, whom she credits with encouraging her to write and publish her first book, Ain't I a Woman. With remarkable evenhandedness she examines the 15-year-long life and then death of their relationship, experiences that are testament to the power of the past: even as she leaves Mack, she laments, "Inside me I am still the country girl who never goes anywhere." But hooks traces other influences on her early intellectual and literary development, and particularly her shock at discovering that while gender and class were considered to be important elements in academia, race was virtually ignored. The present-tense, first-person narrative is occasionally interrupted by italicized passages in the third person. These shifts are initially jarring, but their purpose soon becomes clear: they relate painful information. Perhaps that detachment is what allows hooks to cover difficult memories without a trace of bitterness. Hooks straddles two worlds admirably, writing with great insight about both academia and the world beyond. But her greatest achievement here is the open-ended question of whether it is possible to live what we believe. "No one really says how it will be. When we try to leave behind all the limits of race and gender and class, to transcend them, to get to the heart of the matter."
Library Journal
In this sequel to Bone Black (LJ 9/15/96), hooks (English, CUNY) reveals her passion for poetry, feminism, and the man with whom she spent 15 bittersweet years of her life. She returns to her painful childhood, to the oppressive South, to her abusive father, and then moves on to a relationship with someone who shares her intense desire for writing and sexual enjoyment. She continues her quest for love and acceptance, finding some semblance of peace and stability with this constant companion, but whom she eventually leaves. As in her previous book, hooks moves from first to third person, allowing the reader to eavesdrop on her innermost thoughts, hear of her bisexuality, and witness her fling with white men. An exceptionally written memoir; strongly recommended for poetry aficionados and feminist collections. --Ann Burns, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
In her 15th book, hooks continues the memoir she began in Bone Black (1996). The little southern black girl who dreamed of being a writer from the age of ten is now a young woman entering Stanford University, away from home, from the South and Jim Crow laws, for the first time in her life. At 19 she takes a lover, Mack, an older black intellectual and poet, and begins work on the book that, 11 years later, would be her first published work, Ain't I a Woman? The relationship with Mack is at the center of this book, which is otherwise a review of all of hooks's usual concerns—race, gender, sexuality and desire, money and its uses and abuses, aesthetics, poetry. Her affair with Mack is turbulent, with an occasional undercurrent of violence that hearkens back to the relationship between her mother and father delineated in the previous book. hooks eschews conventional chronological structure to tell the story of her young adulthood and coming of age as a writer. Instead, she repeatedly moves back and forth in time, in chapters that are often organized thematically, shifting from third-person reflections on her young self to first-person recollections that move uneasily between past and present tenses. The result is an ungainly and repetitive hodgepodge of tones that's most effective when it's most conventional. At its best, the book contains flashes of insight that serve as a vivid reminder of how astute and downright brilliant a social critic and thinker the author is (as in a passing observation about the corrosive effects of "quiet drinking" in a family). But too much of this volume is either self-congratulatory gush (no author should write about how "daring anddifficult" the book at hand is), or painfully misjudged efforts at poetic effect. Only a writer as good and determinedly idiosyncratic as hooks could have produced a book as misguided as this.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805041460
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/1997
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
5.27(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.04(d)

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