Friday, December 14, 2007

Gift of Green Reviews...Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place

When MotherTalk offered up copy of The Middle Place, I jumped at the chance to receive an advance copy of this memoir by Kelly Corrigan.

I first saw Kelly Corrigan, on the Today show back in 2005. I'm not sure why I was home at the time, usually I was well on my way to work by the time Katie and Matt were on the air. I suspect I must have been home on maternity leave - the day Kelly's dad's bladder showed no "discernable signs of cancer" happens to be the same day Sprout was born. I saw Kelly with her dark, thick hair, just growing back, and her mom, Mary, and her dad, Big George, and listened to their words. Now you can read Kelly's words, beginning January 8th when the book is finally released. I highly recommend you do.

I had the strange experience of beginning The Middle Place, a chapter where Kelly is filling out those tedious medical forms with all the check boxes right before she goes in for her biopsy, just as I had finished filling out all those tedious forms with the check boxes as I waited to see the dentist. The contrast between our two "simultaneous" experiences was not lost on me. Sure, I suppose there was a possibility that my hygienist might find some sort of rare tooth-related neoplasm, but chances were slim. My day was all about getting the cleaning over with; a small side trip on an otherwise worry free day. I wouldn't be giving this appointment another thought. So I couldn't help but think of the differences between my experience in that benign (no pun intended) setting and her appointment that instead marked the beginning of a series of appointments that were more than just a tad routine.

When I finished reading her memoir, just a day later, I immediately felt that The Middle Place is one of those books that you'd love to re-gift (ask her mother about that one) just so you can spread the gospel of Kelly Corrigan to your friends as soon as possible, yet at the same time selfishly wanting to hold onto it for yourself, for no other reason than the comfort of knowing that it's sitting there on your bookshelf to pick up again at any time. There is something incredibly visual about The Middle Place. I could picture everything she described from her reverse in pike on the diving board to a singular evening she spends with friends and family when happiness trumps whatever the future might hold. So much of what she writes resonated with me even though I have not had many of her experiences, from siblings to cancer. But being a daughter, wife and mother seems to be the tie that binds - and even though this memoir is about cancer, it's not about cancer, if you know what I mean. It really is about so much more. To me it's more about, as Kelly writes, "that sliver of time when childhood and parenthood overlap", the frustration of your body being so in control of you that it forces you to miss you daughter's preschool orientation picnic, her examples of fear and pain, being an adult and then, with just a gesture or a word, becoming a child again.

This is a book that alternates between the past of her childhood and the past of her adult life. Parts are heartbreaking - a preview of life's future events flicker by as a preview to a play that we can only hope a parent won't miss. This is not a puritanical piece of work either. There is drinking, and swearing, and with out a doubt, I will never be able to look at pair of Guess jeans in the same way again. Thank you, Kelly, for that.

Left out of the book are photographs of Kelly's treatment experiences taken by her and by her husband, Edward Litchy, so supplement your reading of The Middle Place with these fine black and whites by going to Kelly's website, Circus of Cancer. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your words and photographs with us and for sharing with us a little bit of what it's like to be a Corrigan, from Wooded Lane to California and back again.


Jenny said...

Love memoirs. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

Kelly Corrigan said...


What a thoughtful response to the book. I can't tell you how good it feels to hear that you thought the book was worthwhile. Reading is a lot about chemistry, in my opinion, and timing and all sorts of environmental factors and it sounds like everything was aligned for you to connect with this book.

Anyway, thanks a lot.

ANyone reading this whose curious about the book might want to watch this:

Kelly Corrigan
Author, The Middle Place

Mary Beth said...

Amy, it sounds good. (And I never knew you are an only child--interesting).

susiej said...

I didn't know that about you either. Is it weird having kids, and dealing with sibbling rivalry?

I loved your review -- I see the librarian in you...