It is 1965, the era of love, light and revolution. While the romantic narrator imagines a bucolic future in an old country house with children running through the dappled sunlight, her husband plots to organize a revolution and fight a guerrilla war in the Catskills.
Their fantasies are on a collision course.
The clash of visions turns into an inner war of identities when the author embraces radical feminism; she and her husband are comrades in revolution but combatants in marriage; she is a woman warrior who spends her days sewing long silk dresses reminiscent of a Henry James novel. One half of her isn’t speaking to the other half.
And then, just when it seems that things cannot possibly get more explosive, her wilderness cabin burns down and Pamela finds herself left with only the clothes on her back.
From her vividly evoked existential childhood (“the only way I would know for sure that I existed was if others lots of others acknowledged it”) to writing her first children’s book on a sugar high during a glucose tolerance test, Pamela Jane takes the reader along on a highly entertaining personal, political, and psychological adventure.
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Open Books Press (February 1, 2016)
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author via WOW! Women on Writing in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
As I began my reading of An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story by Pamela Jane, I noted the rapid pace it seemed the author used to tell her story. The longer I read the more weary I grew because of the quick-paced writing.
Yet, as I went further into Pamela’s story and reminisced about my coming-of-age in the 1960s, I began to see the reason and validity behind the pacing. The writing style is reflective of not only the time period and its unrest but also what it felt like to be living Pamela Jane’s life. Uncertain which way to turn. Invisible, ignored, invalid, unworthy and more. What a life for a young person! It was daunting and anxiety-filled.
Pamela Jane’s writing is honest and filled with the hurts from a family life which included a mentally ill mother and a distant father. She shares freely of her parents’ dysfunctional marriage and its impact on her. Like many of us from similar situations, Pamela loses herself in the world of books and reading.
As she comes into her own, Pamela shares her dreams and hopes as a women coming into her own even though her own life conflicts with these dreams and hopes.
Character and scene descriptions are rich with detail so real it palpates on the page. I could smell the smells, feel emotions, see what Pamela saw. This was a highly engaging story rich in imagery and words. As a child of the 1960s living in my own dysfunctional family, I related to Pamela Jane’s story on several levels.
As readers, we hold in our hands a gem, a well-written and powerful memoir rich in the use of words and detail. I highly recommend it.
Meet Pamela Jane
Pamela Jane has published over twenty-five children’s books with Houghton Mifflin, Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, Penguin-Putnam, and Harper. Her books include Noelle of the Nutcracker illustrated by Jan Brett, Little Goblins Ten illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, and Little Elfie One (Harper 2015). Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic (Skyhorse) was featured in The Wall Street Journal, BBC America, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Sunday Book Review and The Daily Dot, and has just come out in paper. Pamela Jane has published short stories and essays with The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Antigonish Review, Literary Mama. Pamela Jane is a writer and editor for womensmemoirs.com.
Below are three clips of her work:
Find Pamela Jane Online:
Twitter: @memoircoaching, @austencats