All My Mothers and Fathers: A Memoir

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9780060933920: All My Mothers and Fathers: A Memoir

Shortly after his mother dies of breast cancer when he is ten years old, Michael Blumenthal discovers that she was not his biological mother, and that his aunt and uncle, immigrant chicken farmers living in Vineland, New Jersey, are really his parents.

As fate would have it, his adoptive father, a German-Jewish refugee raised by a loveless and embittered stepmother after his own mother died in childbirth, has inflicted on his stepson a fate uncannily -- and terrifyingly -- similar to his own: having first adopted Michael, in part, to help his dying wife, he then imposes on him the same sort of penurious and loveless stepmother whom he himself had had to survive.

With these revelations, the "mysteries" that seem to have permeated Michael's childhood are laid bare, triggering a quest for belonging that will infiltrate the author's entire adult life. All My Mothers and Fathers is Michael Blumenthal's moving and powerful account of how he put his life together again, and made both a break from and peace with his past.

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About the Author:

Michael Blumenthal is the author of six books of poetry, including Days We Would Rather Know and Against Romance. He has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Paris Review, the New Republic, and Time. The recipient of Pushcart Prizes as well as a Fulbright, a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller/Bellagio, and other prestigious awards, he was the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Harvard for ten years. He currently lives in Marseilles.

From Publishers Weekly:

Poet and novelist Blumenthal's biological parents, New Jersey chicken farmers, gave him away at birth to his uncle and aunt, Holocaust survivors who raised him as their own son in Manhattan. He learned this when he was 10, the year his adoptive mother died. "The truth is," he writes in this memoir, "I have had two of everything two mothers, two fathers, two siblings, two versions of manhood, two homes. And all I want is to have one." After his adoptive mother's death, his adoptive father remarried an uncaring woman who "may have damaged forever my ability to love as I would choose my ability, even, to love myself the way an intact human being should." Blumenthal (Dusty Angel; When History Enters the House: Essays from Central Europe) is a deft storyteller, relating his desire for belonging, despite the trying environment, but his memoir is distorted by rage and self-pity. His stepmother, for example, is one of the "women who, cumulatively, never showed me a minute of anything that could conceivably pass for a mother's love." His adoptive father flirts with stereotype, a passive old Jewish man who mutters, "God loves you and so do I," endlessly. With the exception of a sharp account of the author's second wife, the book is cast with ciphers, while the author's own needs and grievances emerge almost too vividly, as when he writes, "Neither man nor animal nor saint nor God... can help me shoulder the burden of my parents." Agent, Lane Zachary.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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