Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery by Jane Lazarre
“In the spring of 1995, the condition I seem to have been waiting for all my life finally struck me.” So begins Jane Lazarre’s account of her transforming battle with breast cancer. Following in the tradition of her critically acclaimed literary memoirs The Mother Knot and Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons, Lazarre brilliantly interweaves her experience of life-threatening illness with other stories of recent and past losses—most notably, that of her mother to breast cancer when Jane was a small child. From these memories and experiences, Lazarre crafts a story that is at once intensely intimate and universally healing.
As she contends with the pain and many indignities of her treatment for cancer, Lazarre realizes that successful medical treatment will only be part of her healing process. Her own illness becomes the vehicle for coming to terms with key moments of loss and grief—the death of a beloved therapist from breast cancer, her brother-in-law’s death from AIDS, a traumatic disappointment in her work life, and the unresolved pain of being a motherless child. The gift of Lazarre’s writing is her ability to transform her narratives of grief and loss into a story whose power to heal lies in its ability to penetrate the unconscious and give voice to the elusive truths hidden there. Through her writing, Lazarre is able to embrace grief—even her own inarticulate grief as a child—and find her way through the story to a restored sense of wholeness.
In Wet Earth and Dreams Jane Lazarre once again proves herself to be both companion and guide through some of the most difficult challenges life has to offer. As always, she draws strength not only from sustaining friendship and love, but also from her own faith in the power of storytelling to make bearable the seemingly unbearable. Lazarre’s bravely and beautifully written account of grief, illness, and death is at the last a celebration of the redemptive possibilities of the creative spirit.
Jane Lazarre is on the Faculty of Eugene Lang College at the New School for Social Research. She is the author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, including Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness and The Mother Knot, both published by Duke University Press.