"Give sorrow words
SORROW WORDS, Man
lillctt. Grove Pi
Reviewed by Joseph Patrick Kenned)
prison - the final variations of nada mas.
It was a scenario that she enacted time
and time again. Making the rounds in Zi-
huatanejo, Acapulco, Oaxaca and Mexico
City she found time for her letter to "E".
Her very first in this volume sets the tone.
"Had been going to write you ebullient
sex letter intermixed with poetic episte-
mological reflections on being reborn in
the crater of civilization but I actually
fucked him this afternoon and it was
grubby and banal, as you always knew."
For awhile, she enjoyed the distinction
of the writer in Mexico, the freedom and
cafe con leche status it afforded a woman
sitting alone in those small cafes. She had
published film and art criticism and had
been an instructor in English before her
termination. Her dismissal was the recurrent voice of rejection. It was off to
Mexico. "Failure at work transmuted itself into sex and failure at sex transmutes
into pain at failure at work."
The letters of Part One were apparently written during the spring and summer
of 1976 and are published in toto. Letters
in Part Two are edited by Edith Jones
from about 1000 pages sent to her by
Maryse during her second stay in Mexico
in 1977. Edith Jones provides a welcome
insight (p. 177) into Maryse Holder's quixotic return to Mexico. It is the first time
that Edith Jones seems tangible. Finally,
in the epilogue of Selma Yampolsky, we
have the testimony of friend and kindred
spirit. The Epilogue is essential reading
and should have been developed and a-
dapted as an introduction. This book
wold have been considerably improved by
an extensive introduction by one who
knew Maryse Holder. The introduction
by Kate Millett appears as a commercial
The problems of Maryse Holder began
shortly after she was born in France.
When she was about two years old, her
mother was taken from her forever, ap-
parently murdered by the Nazis. Much of
her young childhood and later life was
spent longing for her mother. She and her
Jewish father were fugitives from Nazi
terror. Eventually, she came to the U-
Perhaps, the most evident scar was a
partial facial paralysis, the apparent result of surgical injury during the treatment, of mastoiditis. The latter was a devastating trauma. The illusion of personal
beauty was destroyed. She was ugly, or so
she thought. Perhaps, this affliction was
an incipient nemesis of the sustaining self.
As a literate being she found substance
in the * writings of Jean Rhys, pleasure in
the haunting characters of Tennessee Williams and more than color in The Yellow
Wallpaper of Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
She found temporary passage with Caste-
nada, until he reduced it all to pure potency. It was, however, a book of Oscar
Lewis' which she read and reread as she
deciphered the heirs of The Children of
Sanchez. She had wanted to write her dissertation on Flaubert. L Education sentiment ale was the only novel she respected.
In my judgement, Maryse Holder belongs to no generic movement. Perhaps,
she was a victim of the predatory male, a
feminist martyr as suggested by Kate
Millet. Perhaps, she was a victim of a self
congenitally endowed for independent
self-destruction in New York, Mexico or
wherever, as her letters suggest. Some will
see literary affinities with those who have
dared - George Sand, Henry Miller, William Burroughs, Erica Jong and others.
Her capacity for self-abuse was enormous, but whatever her achievements or
imperfections, her letters to "E" are now
letters to you and me - hopefully, compassionate respondents.
Dr. Joseph Patrick Kennedy is a writer
living in Houston.
Voted for ERA
and women's rights
Three terms in the legislature
Councilman, District H
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