Wishing for Snow
Wishing for Snow
Louisiana State University Press, Hardcover, 9780807129289, 232pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2004
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A powerful and moving guide to the art of losing and redeeming a mentally ill mother. In this brave and lyrically composed tribute to her mother, Minrose Gwin accomplishes something rare in the craft of the memoir: not merely a record of a devastating mother-daughter relationship but a redemptive act of artistic witness as well. In telling the story of her mentally ill poet mother, Erin Taylor Clayton Pitner, Gwin looks backward and forward at a southern family, linking personal and cultural malaise while also attempting to envision the person her mother longed to be, the woman Gwin never knew. Erin Taylor wasn't always crazy. Her childhood diary from 1930 reveals a cheerful, observant Mississippi girl who always wished for snow, though "usually it didn't come. And when it came it didn't stick." From a dreamy college student to a young divorced mother who then remarried, grew middle aged, and began to write and publish poetry, Erin Taylor spiraled deeper and deeper into the psychosis that eventually defined her existence until her death from ovarian cancer. Gwin searches for her mother amid the poetry, letters, recipes, traffic tickets, newspaper clippings, medical reports, and quixotic lists left behind. With humor, intrigue, and sadness, her compelling memoir reflects the brilliance and despair of her mother's life. Haunting every page of Wishing for Snow is the sense that Erin Taylor is transcending the tragic limitations of mental and physical disease through her daughter's quest to truly know her. Gwin's combination of candor and grace takes wing toward a reconciliation both impossible and utterly necessary.
About the Author
Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra. She has written three scholarly books, coedited The Literature of the American South, and teaches contemporary fiction at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.