My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers

By Kelly Cherry; Richard Ed. Cherry
(University Alabama Press, Paperback, 9780817312435, 240pp.)

Publication Date: July 2002

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This highly praised novel is a wry and caring tale of a woman struggling to overcome a difficult past and a barren present to establish a sense of self in the world.

Nina is a Virginia belle, now out shoveling Wisconsin snow. Divorced, childless, and middle-aged, she's alone again, having been recently left by the man she loves. She has a cute, cuddly dog for company, but what she really wants is a baby--a desire magnified by the insistent ticks of her biological clock--and the "right man" to father it. She consults the gurus of self-help for guidance. In so doing, she must confront an old ghost--that of family incest and the handsome, brilliant, ruined brother whose Svengalian pull has dominated her life.

When it was first published in 1990, "My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers" received glowing reviews for its freshness and mastery. Alison Lurie praised it as "a witty and moving account of what it's like to be a woman in America today, when the promise to 'Have It All' has become a demand." The "Washington Post" stated, "so honest are the passion and pain . . . So complete the world created. . . . Histories are revealed with a well-timed line, ironies distilled to a moment." And the "Los Angeles Times Book Review" commented that rather than becoming a sad tale of the battle between the sexes, this book is "far too witty, too savvy, too lyrical and compassionate to resort to bitterness."

"In My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers," Kelly Cherry writes with lightness and grace about some of life's most serious subjects--the nature of family, aging parents, alcoholism, sexual violation. As her brave heroine journeys from self-blame to self-help, a beam of humor lights her way. How Nina finds her answers--and triumphs in a way she couldn't possibly have predicted--makes this a fascinating story alive with joy and with sorrow.

Kelly Cherry is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin as well as a prominent southern poet and writer, author of "In the Wink of an Eye" and "Natural Theology."

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