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Margaet Diehl

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ISBN 10: 1569472017 / ISBN 13: 9781569472019
Published by Soho Press, 2003
Condition: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Soho Press

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: Good

About this title


A memoir by the celebrated author of Men.

Memory can distort, diffuse, simply omit. Or it can clarify, confirm, preserve forever fragments from the flow of our lives. From such pieces, Margaret Diehl has re-created the enchantment of her large Southern family settled in the North, whose four siblings are exquisitely joined: "We each had our place in the family, each of us a different age, like a step, connected, and nobody else anywhere related to us as we were to each other. It was a metaphysical pleasure." They are by turns innocent, nave, joyous, bumptious, young, then suddenly slashed, stricken by a reality that attaches permanently, especially to her, body and soul: "My book of hours."

Her older brother, the most exceptional, the best-loved, the bright shining light of the family-and her absolute champion and hero-is killed. He is fourteen, she nine, and her small young soul is sent careening through the world in some entirely new and frightening way, imbued with an overwhelming sense of his absence from her eternity on earth.


The accidental death in February 1965 of Jimmy Diehl, just 14, sent the entire Diehl family into a downward spiral. But this searching, unsparing memoir by Margaret Diehl (just 9 when her brother died) suggests that there were plenty of demons lurking in their spacious Montclair, New Jersey, home long before a car hit Jimmy's green bicycle. Her handsome, sexy parents' lives were perfumed with the scents of cocktails and cigarette smoke. When he came home from his high-powered job in book publishing, her volatile father pushed his children away with angry words and retreated into solitude; he killed himself just a few months after Jimmy's death. Her mother moved the family to New York City, where she spent her afternoons shopping and her evenings on dates ("What else? What do ladies do?") while the three remaining children floundered. Margaret, the youngest, retreated into the fairy tales and fantasy books she had always loved; she and her sister resented the special attention their angry, unruly brother, Johnny, received. Looking back as an adult on those troubled times, Diehl delineates the stages of grief with poetic specificity. She survived, but her frank account makes it clear that a tragedy of such proportions was "like a meteorite pinning my life under it." --Wendy Smith

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