Book Review: Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery

Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery
Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery by Jane Lazarre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of several “uncorrected page proofs” I received as an intern at Duke University Press in the late 90’s. I’m looking to give them away to friends now, so I’m trying to (finally) read at least a bit of each of them.

Many times, I found this memoir too personal for me. I felt surprised and uncomfortable by just how much Lazarre was revealing about her inner thoughts, her dreams, her therapy sessions. It felt too personal but I wanted to read more, which left me feeling voyeuristic.

I appreciate the conscious non-linear construction of the memoir. Here is an author who has studied and taught memoir and is very much aware of the devices and the impact of the structure she’s using. I like that there is discussion within the narrative about the structure of the narrative itself.

Sometimes this book is as inaccessible as my own thoughts/memories/motivations. Other times it breaks through with such a poignance that it takes my breath away. In the end, the pain—both physical and emotional—of Lazarre’s cancer diagnosis and treatment process opens a path towards a relationship with her mother who has been dead for nearly half a century. Towards the end, Lazarre transmutes her feelings for her sons as infants into the feelings that she imagines her mother must have had for her, the awe of this being of her own creation. I had never thought about this as a door that mothering could open up. At times I’ve pondered how much easier it might have been had I just been hatched rather than birthed, but the mammalian mother’s attachment to her offspring really is something unique and precious. Lazarre reminds me of this.

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