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Playing the hand of cards you have been dealt

I am a sucker for autobiographical books about childhood, because it is a time of such Janice Gallowayfluidity of response, and I am always captivated when a writer can distill the stuff of their own childhood, recount it as an adult, but still be able to hold the way the child saw the world.

I had never heard of Janice Galloway, and was delighted to get introduced to her writing.

Fascinating though it is to read childhood accounts of foreign lands and different times, This is not about methere is something particularly interesting, to me, in those which have taken place around my own times, and in the UK. It can be shocking and salutary to read of how very different lives can be, yet in places close to home.

Galloway had a childhood which looked utterly bleak from the point of view of what life handed out – alcoholic father, poverty, drudgery, a school and home environment where ideas of nurturing, encouraging, celebrating the small developing person seem unbearably absent.

Yet, curiously, Galloway is not disconsolate, self-pitying, hate-filled or crushed. She writes with a generosity and even a celebration of her mother who was trapped by Janice’s birth, and let her know that, and her aggressive, bullying, excitingly life filled sister. Lives which on one level could be seen as small, failed, dysfunctional are seen in a way which also acknowledges the unique, precious, loved and affirmed aspects of those lives

saltcoats_multi1It isn’t even that this falls into a `triumph of the human spirit’ genre (though Galloway certainly seems to have climbed out of everything which could have crushed a less generous or frailer spirit) This is neither the story of `a survivor’ nor is it the story of `a victim’, but it is a beautifully written account of one particular child, growing up in a time (1960s) and a place (Saltcoats, West Coast Scotland) told with wryness, humour, compassionate perception and warmth.Galloway neither sweeps the awfulness under the carpet, trying to hide it with a soggy rictus grin of wisecracking sentimentality, nor does she wallow in the pain. Rather there is an acceptance of both her sensitivity and her tough, creative stoicism. She plays the cards she has been dealt, rather than wasting time bemoaning the awfulness of the deal. This is a combination of the pragmatic and the poetic which I found utterly captivating
This is not about Me Amazon UK
This is not about Me Amazon USA

 

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