I have never understood why so few of my friends have read Doris Grumbach’s work. She writes beautifully and with an honest clarity. She has led and amazing life and so her memoirs are just as fascinating as her fiction. I’m hoping it’s just that we don’t get as many US writers over here in the UK.
The first book I read of hers was the memoir ‘Fifty Days of Solitude’ which I picked up in Afterwords in Chicago when I was travelling. I wanted something to exchange for my copy of ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ that I had bought in Powells in Portland and had finished on the train. It was a very fortunate find and I have since bought everything that she has written (that I’ve managed to buy – surprisingly hard in the UK).
Her fiction is deeply rooted in fact and history with both blunt and subtle references throughout, characters are often echoes of historical persons. The style of writing in both fiction and non-fiction is eloquent and detailed with a great deal of description and attention. I find her books in turn comforting and then disquieting – a brilliant combination. They make me think deeply without ever realising that I am doing so, making it all the more effective.
I’m not sure if perhaps I would have read more if I had studied literature at university but her words are involving and inspirational to me, which is a lovely surprise when discovering new authors. If you do like her writing then I would humbly suggest that you may also like ‘Three Day Road’ by Joseph Boyden and ‘Evening’ by Susan Minot.
I’ve taken a few pictures of snippets from the books – I am hoping it’s obvious that they are quotations from Grumbach and I’m not trying to pretend their mine but I wasn’t going to add quotation marks to the images!
The images, the little extracts here, are from my well-loved Grumbach books, please don’t reproduce them and read them as an insight into why this wonderful author should be far better known.