Book 52: The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison

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I finished my first New Years Resolution EVER! AND I DID IT EARLY!!!

On to book 52, a memoir. 

TW: Incest, coercion 

Kathryn Harrison’s relationship with her father was very sparse during her youth; two visits and formal letters were all that she had. This memoir catalogues the affair that begins after her third meeting with him at the age of 20; this affair is sparked from her father’s perverse desire and her fascination with him and is wholly reflective of our natural inclination to do whatever it takes to please or at least appease our parents. 

Harrison’s father is undoubtedly an abuser; many of the inciting acts are coercive, as is the entire affair. 

Incest is not a warm and fuzzy subject; we often shy away from discussing it at all, much less reading memoirs detailing two adults in an incestuous relationship. I picked up this memoir per suggestion from Georgia, one of my fellow classmates at GCSU, and I don’t regret it. 

Harrison’s writing is incredibly immersive, her imagery is vivid, her detail is incredible. The entirety of this story is unsettling; we see Harrison transformed from a young woman damaged by a difficult childhood to someone who is utterly shattered and finally to someone who can stand on her own two feet. 

I was fascinated by her mention of Saint Dymphna, patron saint of mental illness. I’d never heard of Dymphna, which prompted me to order a/the book of women saints. Dymphna’s story reads very parallel to Harrison’s, an interesting use of allusion tied into nonfiction. 

I give the book a 9/10.

The Kiss: A Memoir

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