- Paperback: 211 pages
- Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; First Thus edition (April 15, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0806133228
- ISBN-13: 978-0806133225
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,549,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Balsamroot: A Memoir Paperback – April 15, 2001
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About the Author
Mary Clearman Blew is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Idaho, Moscow. She is the author of Bone Deep in Landscape, Balsamroot: A Memoir, Lambing Out And Other Stories (University of Oklahoma Press) and Sister Coyote: Montana Stories and is coeditor of Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women's Writing.
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Quickly we realize that that Aunt Imogene is suffering from mental lapses that rapidly progress to "dementia" where she flickers arbitrarily between reality and her own world. Dealing with an independent aunt who is struggling to control her life is compounded by Blew's estranged daughter divorcing her husband and moving near her mother. As Blew works to rebuild a relationship with the daughter who she had treated with great reserve, she is forced to revisit her divorces, her treatment of her daughter, and her expectations for life. Then Mary Blew finds and reads her aunt's diaries. Aunt Imogene has never married, and Mary searches the diaries to discover why. Carefully reading between the lines, she finds surprising revelations not only about her aunt but also about her parents and grandparents, thereby overlaying and entwining the lives of four generations. This gives the memoir a fragmented narrative associatively entwining the life of the narrator, her daughter, her aunt, and their ancestors.
Refusing to keep her family's code of silence about important things, Blew shares her findings with her daughter. What she finds are dysfunctional marriages that compel females in her family to strive for personal freedom, females who are unwilling to speak about what really matters, and women with an ability to suppress large parts of their lives. Aunt Imogene has paid dearly for her freedom in Port Angles; however, as she loses her grasp with the world, Mary Blew slowly receives a firmer grasp on her own world. Recognizing destructive familial patterns in herself, Blew intimates that her journey of self-discovery was successful as she takes small steps to spring loose "unacceptable" ideas that she has suppressed.