Monday, February 17, 2020

BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION

Elizabeth Smart. BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT. Paladin, 1991 (originally 1945). 



I re-read this book along with Terese Marie Mailhot's HEART BERRIES as I sensed similarities between the two "memoirs" separated by 75 years and several cultures. Although Smart's story is presented as a novel, it too deals with obsession, sexual obsessions which result in several children. And with a young woman working at "finding herself" in environments, especially home environments, which are not necessarily helpful or supportive. In both cases the female protagonists could be perceived by outsiders as "rebellious" although Mailhot's speaks more about victimization while Smart seems determined to insist upon her right to choose, even if she is choosing a "cad".  

Smart's novel seems easier to read simply because all the images and allusions are from the English or Western canon. Mailhot abandons any linear telling. She does help us by explaining some of the founding myths of her culture, the Heart Berry story. Unfortunately she has the challenge of trying to escape the cultural stereotypes while living them and/or being immersed in them--chaotic home life where substance and sexual abuse hover, chaotic personal life which begins by seeing "hooking up" as the sole means of escape available. Mailhot has the added challenge of trying to write about mental illness literally from the inside. 






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