Fierce Attachments

Vivian Gornick’s memoir about growing up in the Bronx, her mother, their still-continuing walks around the city where they talk and experience the teeming life around them. Utterly charming and engaging, the type of memories and passionate relationship between mother and daughter that makes others pale in comparison. Gornick describes growing up in the Bronx ghetto in a building full of Jews and the occasional Italian/Irish/Polish family that stuck out as “other.” Her father dies suddenly, her mother relishes her role of widow, throws herself into it head over heels, embraces it fully. The neighbor, also a widow, teaches Vivian about sex and how to pull herself together to look good. The escape to City College great for Vivian as a way to finally talk about books with others for hours and hours, all of them cooped up in the cafeteria, reluctant to return home to their cramped Brooklyn or Bronx apartments with their families. Brief life in the Bay Area where she studied at UC-Berkeley, met an artist, married, found that to be empty. She returned alone to NYC, tramps through life with various affairs and the ever-present mother.