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Seeking Rapture: Scenes from a Woman's Life by [Harrison, Kathryn]
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Seeking Rapture: Scenes from a Woman's Life Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Length: 208 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harrison's affinity for vivisecting the soft underbelly of social mores-displayed in The Kiss, The Binding Chair, etc.-is vividly apparent in this series of autobiographical essays. Detailing aspects of a privileged girlhood lived with eccentric maternal grandparents while yearning to be with her beautiful but promiscuous mother (Harrison's parents married at 18 because Harrison's mother was pregnant; her father, the subject of The Kiss, vanished soon after), Harrison reveals bouts with eating disorders as well as an attraction to religious fervor (the rapture of the title). Raised concurrently with Christian Science and Catholicism, Harrison is fascinated by the complications wrought on the spirit by the body. She records bodily functions-e.g., vomiting, lice picking, childbirth-as avidly as she recounts the grisly mortifications of the flesh inflicted upon the saints. (In describing her mother's early death from breast cancer and her reaction to it, she illuminates the tale of St. Catherine of Siena's drinking of the cancerous pus of an enemy.) At times the prose sings, at others it merely plunks. Many of these essays are more self-revelatory than self-exploratory. The most evocative piece, the title essay, shows Harrison at her thoughtful, provocative best, mindful of the flaws and desires within everyone, while the essay on nitpicking for lice depicts an almost callous disregard for racial and class differences.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Diabolically compelling, Harrison holds readers' attention even when they find her fascination with obsession and pain more morbid than illuminating. In her fiction, which includes The Seal Wife [BKL Ap 1 02], her taste for dark emotional extremes is alluringly venturesome, but in The Kiss (1997), her notorious memoir about her affair with her father, and now in her first essay collection, it can be transgressive. Harrison is daringly confessional and ravishingly poetic in her re-creation of her stressful California childhood, during which she did not know her father and slavishly worshiped her young, glamorous, ice-queen mother while her maternal grandparents raised her with a bewildering mix of quaint strictness and unintentional laissez-faire. No reader could ask for a more intriguing figure than Harrison's grandmother, who was born Jewish and raised in Shanghai, and the evolution of their complex love plays in plangent counterpoint to Harrison's tragic failure to win her mother's affection. Harrison's family portraits are vivid, involving, and resonant, as is her frank chronicling of her unhealthy beguilement with the martyrdom of women saints and her corresponding anorexia. Unfortunately, Harrison veers from the courageously cathartic to the dismayingly aberrant in excessive and creepy broodings over ticks, head lice, and cat births, oddities that detract from her otherwise lancing inquiry into longing and loss, fetishistic mourning and brute survival, and, finally, the miracle of munificent love. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 425 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (July 6, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 6, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,274 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

By Caroline P. Hampton on June 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that Kathryn Harrison can hold a readers attention in the palm of her hand like no other author out there. Her previous work, "The Seal Wife", "The Binding Chair", "Poison", "Exposure" and my personal favorite "The Kiss" are some of the most powerful, complex and impossible to put down.
Ms. Harrison's newest book, "Seeking Rapture - Scenes From A Woman's Life" are selected stories from a life of many levels. From the abandonment of a mother, betrayal of a father, motherhood and lighter mood stories of cheating on her driver's test, Ms. Harrison's work is never boring and always effective.
"Seeking Rapture" is a wonderful collection of prose from an exceptionally talented writer who never seems to shy away from the taboo or shocking and, I really admire her for that.
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Format: Hardcover
While Kathryn Harrison is in a New Delhi hotel lobby she hears the following spoken on Indian TV by an ascetic: "Human Destiny is a field that is sown with misfortune." And this pretty much sums up this collection of intelligent, insightful, funny, sad recollections or "Scenes from a Woman's Life" by Harrison.
In "Seeking Rapture," Harrison lays bare her soul, opens up her veins and in the process reveals a tortured relationship with her family and specifically her mother: "Mysteriously, unexpectedly, this stranger (a Christian Scientist practitioner) had ushered me into an experience I cannot help but call rapture. I felt myself separated from my flesh and from all earthly things...I had no words for what happened---I have few now, almost forty years later...I learned at aged six, that transcendence was possible: that spirit could conquer matter, and that therefore I could overcome whatever obstacles prevented my mother's loving me. I could overcome myself."
But like many who have tortured relationships with a parent, Harrison cannot help but be the dutiful daughter and when her mother becomes ill, she attends to her: "In trying to explain why she (Harrison's mother) had been so remote, my mother told me that inside herself she had discovered a fortress, assembled brick by brick by psychic brick to defend herself against my grandmother. `The problem is,' she said, starting to cry, `I don't know the way out. I'm stuck inside myself."
So much of this book is so honest and probing that you will have a hard time reading through some sections without wincing at the truthful, heartfelt prose. But what you also take with you after the last page is read is the feeling that for Harrison these recollections equal catharsis. As she writes in "Mother's Day Card" when she talks to her dead mother at the side of her children's beds: "Each night, by their beds, knees mortified by Lego, elbows planted among stuffed animals, I'm being rehabilitated."
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Format: Paperback
Autobiographical account of Kathryn Harrison's life growing up. Her mother was an irresponsible, selfish teen mother. So, her grandparents basically brought her up. They did weird stuff like sticking raw beef on the walls (?) and generally of another generation.

Kathryn became a successful author in spite of the way she grew up and all the challenges she faced. She married another successful author (not sure which came first!), Colin Harrison, and they had 2 children. What struck me was the rawness of her honesty and how we (I) look at her first as successful and rich, then as an author, then whatever......

And this book points out that we all have our rich history, our stories of what make us who we are.
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