Biographical Kathryn Harrison The Kiss

ISBN 13: 9780380731473

The Kiss

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9780380731473: The Kiss

We meet at airports. We meet in cities where we've never been before. We meet where no one will recognize us.

A "man of God" is how someone described my father to me. I don 't remember who. Not my mother. I'm young enough that I take the words to mean he has magical properties and that he is good, better than other people.

With his hand under my chin, my father draws my face toward his own. He touches his lips to mine. I stiffen.

I am frightened by the kiss. I know it wrong, and its wrongness is what lets me know, too, that it is a secret.

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Review:

The 1990s seems to be the decade of revelation. What used to be private is becoming increasingly public. All is aired on talk shows whose guests are no longer celebrities hawking their latest film, book, or album, but ordinary citizens selling their personal traumas. Mothers Who Sleep with Their Daughters' Boyfriends; Men Who Wear Their Girlfriends' Clothes; People Whose Families Have Been Murdered Before Their Eyes--no subject is too salacious or too shameful for public consumption.

And now here comes a true story about A Woman Who Slept with Her Father--prime fodder for the TV talk show feeding frenzy. Certainly it would be easy to lump Kathryn Harrison's new memoir, The Kiss into this same category of titillating topics, but that would be a mistake. There is nothing remotely titillating about Harrison's book; instead, it reads like a slow descent into hell--one that compels and repels in almost equal measure at times. Harrison, who did not really meet her father until she was 20, takes the reader on a difficult journey into her loveless childhood, her bouts with anorexia and bulimia, and, eventually, the incestuous 4-year affair with her father. Her prose is deceptively simple; her choice of present tense to describe events that occurred many years ago forces an immediacy--almost a complicity--upon the reader that heightens both revulsion and compassion.

The Kiss is not for everybody. Some readers will be outraged by its subject matter; others will find it just too painful to read. But for those who make it through, this harrowing tale promises the reward of a life reclaimed and a tragedy transcended.

From the Publisher:

"Only a writer of extraordinary gifts could bring so much light to bear on so dark a matter. I will never forget this book."
-- Tobias Wolff, author of This Boy's Life

"This is a writer at the top of her form."
-- Mary Gordon, author of The Shadow Man

"A powerful piece of writing, a testament to evil and hope."
-- The New York Times

" Powerful. Remarkable for both the startling events it portrays and the unbridled force of the writing."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A mesmerizing true tale that in this talented novelist's hands takes on the mythic proportions of a Greek tragedy."
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This book offers an account of a moral victory -- the re-emergence of a thoughtful, disciplined, knowing sensibility."
-- Robert Coles, author of The Moral Intelligence of Children

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