Wrestling With The Angel: A Life Of Janet Frame

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9780670893713: Wrestling With The Angel: A Life Of Janet Frame

The first full-scale-and long-awaited-biography of Janet Frame, sometimes described as the "most distinguished woman writer in English"

Janet Frame, born in 1924, is New Zealand's most celebrated and least public author. She has published more than twenty books and has been shortlisted for the Nobel Prize. Her three-volume memoir, described by Michael Holroyd as "one of the greatest autobiographies written this century," was the subject of the award-winning film An Angel at My Table.

Relying on documents never previously released, including Janet Frame's diaries, health records, and court transcripts, Michael King reveals the formative episodes of her life-the poverty of her childhood, her enduring sense of being an outsider, the deaths of two sisters by drowning, her incarceration in psychiatric hospitals for the better part of a decade, and her continuing struggle against diagnoses of mental illness. And he deals in frank detail with her life in the decades since her memoirs were published.

Insightful, shocking, and unforgettable, Wrestling with the Angel is a remarkable account of a writer who has been pushed to the limit by life and, with equal force, has pushed the powers of her imagination and talent to create extraordinary work.

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About the Author:

Michael King has published more than twenty books and received seventeen awards. His international bestseller, Death of the Rainbow Warrior, was published in 1986 and has become the standard work on the French Secret Service's attempt to cripple Greenpeace.

From Publishers Weekly:

Remarkable and resilient, Janet Frame is New Zealand's most accomplished writer. She's the author of 11 novels, dozens of poems and stories and three volumes of autobiography (including the work that inspired Jane Campion's film An Angel at My Table). Now in her 70s and having suffered a stroke, she is largely silent. In this rigorously researched authorized biography, fellow New Zealander King (Death of a Rainbow Warrior) looks back over Frame's anguished life. At her request, the bookAwhich draws from previously unavailable personal documentsAlacks critical literary analysis (although King does note that her writing conveys the "sense that reality itself is a fiction, and one's grasp on it no more than preposterous pretense and pretension"). But the focus here is not on Frame's works; instead, King describes her life as wordsmith and survivor. In effect two books, the first half of Wrestling with the Angel is a dramatic account of Frame's struggle to survive a painful and emotionally troubled life (two of her sisters drowned, and she attempted suicide) and to write. King details Frame's early lifeAher travels into and out of psychiatric hospitals (where her anxiety neuroses were dangerously misdiagnosed as schizophreniaAshe narrowly escaped a lobotomy)Aas well as the writing career she began in her mid-30s. In the anticlimactic second half of the book, he describes Frame's succ?s d'estime: the literary prizes she won, the money troubles that followed and her compulsive moving from place to place (five times in one two-year period), in New Zealand and abroad, which testified to the persistence of her unexorcised anxieties. King's biography is a competent account of an unusual lifeAthough no replacement for Frame's autobiography. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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