Are You Happy?: A Childhood Remembered

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9780641856099: Are You Happy?: A Childhood Remembered

Emily Fox Gordon was a fatty, an academic failure, a schoolyard pariah, and a disappointment to her highly educated parents. And yet her early life was, as she puts it, "a succession of moments of radiant apprehension." Growing up in a Massachusetts college town in the fifties, she cultivated the writer's lifelong habit of translating experience into words. As she grew older, she became aware of her mother's long withdrawal into alcoholic depression. For Emily this was a new kind of observation, made from the outside-one that changed her childish view of the world, and ended her childhood.

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About the Author:

Emily Fox Gordon is an award-winning essayist. Her work has appeared in American Scholar, The Pushcart Prize Anthology XXI, XXII, XXIII, and XXIV, Anchor Essay Annual, The New York Times Book Review, Boulevard, and Salmagundi.

From Publishers Weekly:

The answer to the question posed by such a title would seem, inevitably, to be "no," but Gordon qualifies her frequent tears as "the manifestation of a particularly satisfying kind of lyrical sadness." This is her second venture into memoir, following the well-reviewed Mockingbird Years, an account of her institutionalization as a late teenager and subsequent therapy. This book covers her earlier, 1950s childhood as the daughter of a miserly and often hectoring Jewish economics professor at Williams College, whom she claims to have hated, and his eventually alcoholic Presbyterian schoolteacher wife. Though bright (readers are told frequently), Gordon felt like a "misfit"; an overweight, underachieving faculty brat; a "social pariah"; a "blob." By sixth grade, she was failing school and, like her classmates, fascinated by sex. A crush on her voice coach led her to try to implicate his wife in an affair with the soccer coach, but the lie was easily discovered, leaving her humiliated and eager to move with her parents from the Berkshires to Manhattan for a fresh start. The book, about childhood friends and teachers, too, analyzes Gordon's parents throughout. Early on, Gordon comments, "There's nothing more tiresome than a grown daughter's brief against her parents." Indeed. (Mar.)
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