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This is Not About Me Paperback – 4 May 2009
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'Sublime prose and fierce honesty set it apart - Part of Galloway's skill in This is Not About Me is how she keeps a child's sense of bewilderment and secret understanding' -Telegraph'Blistering, terrifying, always moving' - Independent on Sunday'Galloway provides sentences blazing with light, a gorgeous draft of terror' Observer'Galloway takes her readers straight back into childhood's wincingly recognisable uncertainties, dislocations and disruptions. She had more of them than most - one of the most moving, yet completely unsentimental, accounts of growing up that you will ever read' - Scotsman'A literary, not a misery, memoir. There is mirth, and a Proustian attention to the sights, sounds and smells of the industrialized coast of Clydeside' - Sunday Times'On reluctantly closing the boards of this unforgettable memoir, the words A"first volumeA" are strangely comforting - a combination of Galloway's power and the fact that the wee girl done good make it so' - Scotland on Sunday'A dazzling book - Galloway is brilliant on the minute detail of childhood perception. She is also brave, funny, resilient and in spite of everything full of emotional generosity' - Daily Mail'A book unlike any other, in which Galloway has captured what it means to start to become yourself' - Guardian
From her earliest years with a boozy, accident-prone father and a reluctantly pragmatic mother Janice Galloway's grew up as a watcher - careful and vigilant. Then her parents' marriage broke up and mother and daughter moved to an attic above a doctor's surgery. When her big sister Cora returned home, with her steady stream of boyfriends, snappy dress sense and matching temper, evasion became a way of life. This is a funny and telling book about the routine dependencies and confusions, hopes and triumphs of childhood: it is also a book about emergence, as slowly, the beginnings of unsuspected rage that pushed the silent girl towards her voice.See all Product description
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I had never heard of Janice Galloway, so thanks, Amazon, for offering this as one of the Kindle deal reads.
Fascinating though it is to read childhood accounts of foreign lands and different times, there 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
It 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 (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
I have now bought the second volume (adolescence) and will be working my way through Galloway's fiction.
Book club listed read. Not a book I would have chosen to buy or read, however, the story is poignant and familiar to many of us born in the same decade and to similar circumstances.
It took me to both ends of the emotional spectrum, bringing back memories of my own child/teen years.
Not a chore to read, and would recommend to anyone one who enjoys light read memoirs.
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Was that sister quite as horrid as Janice remembers? I hope not!