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Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton Paperback – April 1, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
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Frequently Bought Together
An unsparing account of the anguish and fierce love between Linda Gray Sexton and her brilliant, unstable and ultimately self-destructive mother, Anne Sexton. Anne taught Linda how to write, how to see, how to imagine; and only Linda could have written a book that captures so vividly the intimate details and lingering emotions of their lives together. Searching for Mercy Street speaks to everyone who admires Anne Sexton and to every daughter or son who knows the pain of an imperfect childhood. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"Mother had been living and dying for all of the twenty-one years I had known her," recalls novelist Sexton (Private Acts) of Anne Sexton (1928-1974), the depressive, alcoholic, successfully suicidal poet who perhaps best exemplified the "confessional" literary movement. This memoir was written because the younger Sexton "needed an exorcism." Toward that end, she here evokes both her mother's furiously creative and destructive powers in scenes that include happy literary hobnobbing between the two women and grisly incestuous interludes imposed by the mother (and first related, more briefly and diplomatically, in Diane Middlebrook's controversial biography, Anne Sexton). The younger Sexton tries to sketch a family dynamic that involves several generations, and she tells the story of her own struggle to break free of maternal dominance even while serving as her mother's literary executor. Her book may well be appreciated in the recovery market (the author also describes her own bouts with alcoholism, anxiety and depression). But the often maudlin writing, evasion of detail in preference for melodrama and aversion to the fine points of storytelling are likely to annoy literary readers and devotees of the poet. So is the daughter's unabated drive to justify herself as the abused survivor of an (evidently) greatly misguided parent. Sexton's poetry will continue to astonish readers long after this memoir has vanished. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I was wrong. Searching for Mercy Street is truly what the subtitle claims: "A journey back to my mother". It gets so personal it is embarrassing at times. Linda goes into a lot of detail as to why she revealed things that you would never want anybody outside of your family to know, and it makes sense, and yet it doesn't. I have never read a better account of life with another person. It is not 100% chronological, but it is rich in detail and clarity. I read it with the anticipation I have sometimes when reading a very interesting novel.
Long time ago a friend said: "Your parents are probably the only people that you may love even if you don't like them". I have thought about that comment quite a bit over the years. Linda was conflicted over the relationship she had with her mother. There was the void of not having had a mom in the general sense of the term, not so much a June Cleaver, but more someone who takes care of you, looks after you, helps you, loves you. There was the abuse. And mingled with everything else, there was the unconditional love. The complexities of mental illness are true and clear and never better represented than in this story. I have to wonder: how much of Anne's behavior was pure selfishness, and how much was her disease?Read more ›
Living with Anne Sexton must have been like living in hell--and her daughter, Linda Gray Sexton, leaves absolutely nothing out of this book. She allows every dirty secret to emerge like a sort of bitterness filling the air.
Such as Anne's body lying on top of her-- "She's very heavy...I want to scream-get off, get off, get off!"--Linda Gray Sexton
Without Linda G. Sexton's honesty, "Mercy Street" would have been just another Mommy Dearest, but this was not. This book was about therapy, change, and forgiveness: this book was about new beginnings.
"Without knowing it, mother passes out to me her powers of observation. She shows me how to watch, how to see, how to record what transpires in the world around me. This is how I inherit her greatest gift..."--Linda Gray Sexton
"Searching for Mercy Street" was about rising above an environment which could have easily turned one into the same monsters you coexisted with--
But Linda Gray does not only show the reader the monster, the molester, the mentally ill, Anne Sexton-- she shows us the victim, the darkly depressed poet-- who without writing, would have killed herself long ago; she shows us a mother who did the best she could,even while walking through the dark.
Linda Gray Sexton finally arrives whole--In a world for her that was once motherless--
Now, after years of searching, she has found the mother within, and Anne Sexton herself,with all her imperfections, lives within that person too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not a happy story, too much animal abuse, interesting. She seems to hate her mother as much as Sylvia Plath hated her, she just chose to write it downPublished 1 month ago by GJH
I could not get through this. It is rare for me to not finish a book. Some of the descriptions were gross, even in the beginning of the book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kali Cowan
Twenty-one years after publication, this book is still beautiful, relevant, and incredibly written. Linda Gray Sexton's courage in this memoir is stunning, and an inspiration to... Read morePublished 21 months ago by André François
I read this book years ago. I found it at the library, and for some reason was drawn to it. I hadn't even heard of Anne Sexton before. Read morePublished on May 29, 2014 by Amazon Customer
I loved this book, so haunting and poignant and elegant. Linda puts you smack dab in the Sexton household in this behind-the-scenes look at her mother's mental illness and family... Read morePublished on November 5, 2013 by SF Journo
It was on reading Anne Sexton's work that I suspected I had been sexually abused, as her madness resonated so strongly within me. I was in my teens. Read morePublished on July 12, 2013 by Sharon Brown
I read this book in high school after finding it in a sale bin at the local discount store. I was a shy, lonely young girl struggling with severe depression and low self-esteem. Read morePublished on March 22, 2011 by R. Smith