It’s the combination of English reticence (not a rejection or fear of feeling but a reluctance to cheapen it) and the experience of being the older of two boys that makes In the Blood an indelible evocation of childhood experience, the simultaneous desire to cling to home and to explore the world without losing that security, the desire to remain a child and the realization you are expected to give up that safe position before you are ready. It would be too much to say Motion writes of the lost domain of childhood, since he clearly has carried the loving memories of that time and his family with him. What’s both past and present here is the state of childhood, the condition of feeling burstingly aware and alive, of regarding the familiar with the awestruck amazement we reserve for the new. When you read In the Blood, it’s as if your mental storage space were flooded by a tidal wave of your own memories.
IN THE BLOOD: A MEMOIR OF CHILDHOOD BY ANDREW MOTION | DAVID R GODINE | 336 PAGES | $24.95.
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