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Goldman is “In Search of Understanding”

Saturday in Review: “Memoir in Search of Understanding” a review by Josephine Humphreys of Child by Judy Goldman in NCLR Online Fall 2022.

2023 Southern Book Prize Nonfiction Finalist

Most people don’t try to sort out their memories by examining them in public, but memoirists do just that all the time. Humphreys points out that the “the best memoir… is not simply a collection of the writer’s memories – not history, not autobiography, not a report. Instead, at its best, I think of memoir as belonging to the genre of mystery…”

Charlotte resident Goldman writes about her upbringing with her nanny, Mattie. Humphreys finds the mystery within the memoir. “As she works through her memories of the past and her love for Mattie, Goldman asks, and answers, a number of smaller mysteries. Why did Mattie leave her own child to go live with a white family and take care of someone else’s child? Why did Mattie not want Judy to go to church with her?”

Humphreys adds her own youthful memories to the story, highlighting the ever-present mystery of our Southern life. “But the larger and clearly more important mystery is the South itself, its divisions, its violence, its beauty and humor and religions and stories and contradictions. What are we to make of this place we love and inhabit? And what are we to make of ourselves?” Every Southern writer grapples with this. Goldman is doing just that herself.

Read the rest in NCLR Online Fall 2022 or buy Child at our new affiliate list!