Writing Memory, Writing Back to the Mother
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title and Copyright Pages
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1. Introduction: “When You Think of Me, Think of My Life”
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In the eyes of her many interviewers, Jamaica Kincaid is an unusual and forceful individual: she is described as a woman with a “dramatic” look and as a “tall, striking, clear-eyed” woman who turns heads and “projects a natural authority that attracts attention” (Garis, Garner). ...
PART I: In the Shadow of the Mother
2. “I Had Embarked on Something Called Self-Invention”: Artistic Beginnings in "Antigua Crossings" and At the Bottom of the River
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“I was born in 1949. My twenty-sixth birthday was the birthday when I felt old and used up—I had left home when I was sixteen, and ten years in a young life is a long time,” Kincaid comments as she remembers her early days as a writer in New York City (“Putting Myself...
3. “The Way I Became a Writer Was That My Mother Wrote My Life for Me and Told It to Me”: Living in the Shadow of the Mother in Annie John
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“I always say it’s completely autobiographical, including the punctuation,” Kincaid has remarked of her 1985 coming-of-age novel, Annie John (Muirhead 45). “The point wasn’t the truth and yet the point was the truth,” she insists, describing Annie John as, at once, a fictional...
4. “As I Looked at This Sentence a Great Wave of Shame Came over Me and I Wept and Wept”: The Art of Memory, Anger, and Despair in Lucy
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“My mother . . . was a betrayer of her sex,” Kincaid remarks as she draws a connection between the mother character in her 1990 novel Lucy and her own mother, Annie Drew (Listfield). In Lucy, a novel Kincaid says is filled with “thick female stuff,” she wants to be “very frank,” ...
PART II: A Very Personal Politics
5. “Imagine the Bitterness and the Shame in Me as I Tell You This”: The Political Is Personal in A Small Place and "On Seeing England for the First Time"
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“Apparently, I’m a very angry person. . . . I hope I never lose it,” Kincaid remarks. “If I ever find myself not getting angry, . . . I’ll go to a psychiatrist to regain my anger” (Mendelsohn). In writings that openly engage political issues, Kincaid famously vents her anger not only at the...
PART III: Family Portraits
6. “I Would Bear Children, but I Would Never Bea Mother to Them”: Writing Back to the Contemptuous Mother in The Autobiography of My Mother
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An unremittingly bleak and bitter novel permeated with feelings of despair, contempt, and rage, Kincaid’s 1996 novel The Autobiography of My Mother is at once a continuation of and a departure from her autobiographical-fictional project, her attempt to use fiction to write herself...
7. “I Shall Never Forget Him Because His Life Is the One I Did Not Have”: Remembering Her Brother's Failed Life in My Brother
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“This might have been me, dying young,” Kincaid remarks of the death of her youngest brother, Devon Drew, who died of AIDS in Antigua at the age of thirty-three in January 1996. “I felt instinctively that of all the lives I might have had, this might have been me” (Mehren). ...
8. “Like Him and His Own Father before Him, I Have a Line Drawn through Me”: Imagining the Life of the Absent Father in Mr. Potter
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“How do I write? Why do I write? What do I write? This is what I am writing: I am writing ‘Mr. Potter.’ It begins in this way; this is its first sentence: ‘Mr. Potter was my father, my father’s name was Mr. Potter.’ So much went into that one sentence; much happened before I settled on...
9. Conclusion: “I Am Writing for Solace”: Seeking Solace in Writing, Gardening, and Domestic Life
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Kincaid, who began her writing career “embarked on something called self-invention,” continues to find the act of writing a highly personal act: “an expression of personal growth” (“Putting” 100, Ferguson, “Interview” 169). ...
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Index [Includes Back Cover]
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Page Count: 252
Publication Year: 2005