I finished this heart wrenching book this morning, in a quiet house as the sun rose above the eastern edge. It was necessary to do so, to read the last pages while in a solitary space. Even though I knew the outcome, even though I had imagined it many times, reading it was brutal.
35 years ago Tretheway’s mother was murdered by her ex-husband. The writer was just 19 at the time and it changed everything for her. How does one process such deep trauma? Over time, lots and lots of time. And it is only in the last several years that she has really been able to grapple with it. How she writes about it will leave you breathless.
Natasha Tretheway is a poet – a Pulitzer Prize winner and former US Poet Laureate – so you can imagine that this book is as beautiful as it is brutal. I have enjoyed many of her poems but was steered toward Memorial Drive after listening to an episode of Poetry Off the Shelf, a conversation between she and Helena de Groot. Also, worth a listen. Was glad to have listened to this conversation first as I believe it increased my sensitivity when I read the book. Not to the subject matter but to how she talks about it. I felt hyper tuned in to the metaphors she uses to describe her remembering, her processing of her grief.
It is a slim book, just over 200 pages, so not a huge time commitment. But definitely a commitment of the heart…
4 comments on “MEMORIAL DRIVE – A Daughter’s Memoir, by Natasha Tretheway”
Thank you for introducing me to Natasha Trethewey. I put her memoir on my library “to read” list. I’ll have to build up some emotional courage to request it. I listened to Trethewey talk about the book in an interview with Terry Gross. I was both deeply moved and incredibly inspired. Trethewey is an amazing woman.
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She is an amazing woman, Barbara. And because she is such a fine writer, the book is bearable. Even beautiful.
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JNaz, this is now on my must-read list. I’m behind in listening to Poetry Off the Shelf episodes, so thanks for that tip. Helena De Groot is so good at what she does, and I love her voice.
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Glad to hear it, Teri. It is a must read. And I too adore Helena De Groot. She is such an inquisitive and sensitive reader and conversationalist. And yes, that voice…