Shut your eyes as tight as you can

Gabriele Annan

  • A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile by Agate Nesaule
    Soho, 280 pp, $24.00, December 1995, ISBN 1 56947 046 4

‘We are talking in bed, friends again instead of lovers. Apricot-coloured fern fronds wave against the pearl grey background of my flannel sheets. Both of us are surprised to hear thunder, thunder in February, in Wisconsin, over frozen ground and dirty snow. My hand rests lightly on his grey hair, our legs are still entwined.’ What kind of a memoir is going to follow on from this opening? The answer is two kinds. One – the part dealing with the present and recent past in the USA – is pure schlock mixed with aspiring schlock, i.e. laced with jargon and touting every psychotherapeutic and feminist cliché. The subtitle – ‘Healing the Trauma of War and Exile’ – should be read as a health warning.

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