Vivian Gornick's books include Approaching Eye Level, The End of The Novel of Love, and The Situation and The Story. She lives in New York City.
This supple, energized memoir chronicles Gornick's volatile relationship with her mother and her unsuccessful battle to reject a legacy of hatred, depression, humiliation and self-pity. An able storyteller with a keen ear for dialogue, Gornick (Essays in Feminism effectively montages the intimate, crude kaffeeklatsches in the Bronx tenement of her youth with street scenes from present-day Manhattan. Particularly vivid is the portrait of Nettie, the sensual, Gentile outsider among Jewish immigrant neighbors, who drives a deeper wedge between mother and daughter when she takes the young Gornick under her tutelage. The author's inherited rage particularly doomed her relationships with men, she feels, and she supplies bleak details from her failed marriage as well as her affairs with an older married man and a psychotic childhood love. Unfortunately, the insightful ``deprivation litany'' bogs down with ``knee-jerk antagonism,'' therapy-talk and self-indulgence as a 48-year-old Gornick obsessively censures an 80-year-old mother. (April 20)
There's a clarity to this memoir that's so brilliant it's unsettling; Gornick finds a measure of freedom in her writing and her feminist activism, but even then, she and her mother can never let each other go. -- Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times Book Review "There are only so many words in the dictionary with which to say how very good this book is. Fierce Attachments deserves them all." --The Washington Post Book World "Gornick is a distinctive and startling artist--the true subject of this brilliant book." --The Nation "Searingly intimate and courageous... Gornick's writing is brilliant, clean, and colorful, simultaneously evoking the inner and outer spaces she is trying to illuminate." --Mother Jones "Inspiring... Gornick carves, in careful, electrifying words, each scar and glory of her unconventional life." --Guardian Book Supplement