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by Minrose Gwin

In this brave and lyrically composed tribute to her mother, Minrose Gwin accomplishes something rare in the craft of the memoir: not merely a record of a devastating mother-daughter relationship but a redemptive act of artistic witness as well. In telling the story of her mentally ill poet mother, Erin Taylor Clayton Pitner, Gwin looks backward and forward at a southern family, linking personal and cultural malaise while also attempting to envision the person her mother longed to be, the woman Gwin never knew.Erin Taylor wasn't always unsane. Her childhood diary from 1930 reveals a cheerful, observant Mississippi girl who steadfastly wished for snow, though "usually it didn't come. And when it came it didn't stick." From a dreamy college student to a young divorced mother who then remarried, grew middle aged, and began to write and publish poetry, Erin Taylor spiraled deeper and deeper into the psychosis that eventually defined her existence until her death from ovarian cancer. Gwin searches for her mother amid the poetry, letters, recipes, traffic tickets, newspaper clippings, medical reports, and quixotic lists left behind. She even conjures a ghostly "Erin in the office" who tells her own version of Gwin's memories.
Download Wishing for Snow: A Memoir epub
ISBN: 0807129283
ISBN13: 978-0807129289
Category: Biographies
Subcategory: Arts & Literature
Author: Minrose Gwin
Language: English
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr (January 1, 2004)
Pages: 232 pages
ePUB size: 1411 kb
FB2 size: 1793 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 454
Other Formats: txt lrf rtf mbr

Good read
The prose is at once beautiful and devastating in its power. The daughter's longing for comfort and predictability juxtaposed with her mother's sadness and longing for something that is always beyond her reach are convincingly and painfully presented.

This memoir touched me deeply.
Good read!
Dear Erin,
I am trying to get in touch with the one who wrote the poems. Please forward this letter to her wherever she is.
Her Daughter

Some of us are lucky enough to glide through life the apple of our mother's eye. Childhoods full of laughter, and games, warm smells pleasantly wafting from a kitchen, picnics and love. Lots of love.

It will not always be fun and games. Reality makes sure of that. One day will be spent dancing and singing, the next spent doing mind-numbing chores. One day hugs and kisses, the next pursed lips and a furrowed brow.

But what Minrose Gwin experienced was so far from any semblance of normalcy, that to even read her account of it is nearly bone splintering. Her days were harrowing countdowns to her mother's raging outbursts, or tension filled evenings between her chronically out of work stepfather and the rest of the family. Pleas to her maternal grandmother to come get her went unheeded.

Love is a turncoat. A switchblade at the throat.

Gwin's mother, poet Erin Taylor, fell in love at a young age and married a "dashing" aviation cadet. Fourteen months later, she was divorced and raising a baby whose father wanted nothing to do with her. Eventually, she married another man who had been in trouble with the law and couldn't keep a job to save his life. Unable to pay the rent on time, the family goes through numerous moves. Erin eventually supplements the family's meager income with various temp typing jobs, but the unhappy marriage and the frequent mood swings remain.

Dear Minrose,

I don't know where she is. Sometimes she was here and sometimes she went away.

Your Mother

When an adult Gwin is contacted by members of her family revealing the conditions in which her mother is living -- living and eating in a closet, surrounded by shreds of paper and rodents throughout the house, shrunken from a bout of cancer, plagued by mental illness--she makes the choice to send her mother to a nursing home.

Years later, after her mother loses her fight with cancer, Gwin is sent boxes of her mother's papers, journals, letters, poems and other articles. As she peruses the material, she learns her mother was not always the woman she experienced. Erin Taylor was also young once, full of the promise of possibility. Later, in her fifties, after returning to school and becoming a poet, she corresponded with friends and admirers about art and literature. Up to her death, she is sent letters by people who loved her, people she inspired, people who prayed for her from afar.

Dear Minrose,

I wanted to be free like you but I just can't get past that writer's block.

Lots of love,

Gwin's memoir reads like a photo album completed after the fact. There is no chronological order. The pictures aren't grouped together by theme; each snapshot jars one out of the experience of viewing the one before. Perhaps because this is the only way the author understands her mother-- moments snatched from memory, scattered impressions, and sudden, vivid images.

Was her mother the one who wrote shattering poems of regret and motherhood, or the woman who once tried to stab her? Was she the woman who wrote long letters to her daughter, or the one who attempted to pluck out her eyes? Was she the woman who copied her daughter's published works, word for word, onto paper, or the woman who refused to open her daughter's letters?

Some of us are lucky enough to have wonderful, nearly perfect relationships with our mothers. Some of us aren't. Many of us have complicated, blighted relationships that are beset with miscommunications and regret, with anger and love mixed into all the cracks and riddles. We cobble together what we can and try desperately to make it work. And some of us know that it will never work and we move on, and try to make the best of it.

Gwin's memoir is a powerful, haunting road down the life of a woman beseiged with mental illness and the daughter who suffered the consequences.