The Long Journey Home
By Margaret Robison
(Spiegel & Grau, Hardcover, 9781400068692, 400pp.)
Publication Date: May 17, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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First introduced to the world in her sons’ now-classic memoirs—Augusten Burroughs’s Running with Scissors and John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye—Margaret Robison now tells her own haunting and lyrical story. A poet and teacher by profession, Robison describes her Southern Gothic childhood, her marriage to a handsome, brilliant man who became a split-personality alcoholic and abusive husband, the challenges she faced raising two children while having psychotic breakdowns of her own, and her struggle to regain her sanity.
Robison grew up in southern Georgia, where the façade of 1950s propriety masked all sorts of demons, including alcoholism, misogyny, repressed homosexuality, and suicide. She met her husband, John Robison, in college, and together they moved up north, where John embarked upon a successful academic career and Margaret brought up the children and worked on her art and poetry. Yet her husband’s alcoholism and her collapse into psychosis, and the eventual disintegration of their marriage, took a tremendous toll on their family: Her older son, John Elder, moved out of the house when he was a teenager, and her younger son, Chris (who later renamed himself Augusten), never completed high school. When Margaret met Dr. Rodolph Turcotte, the therapist who was treating her husband, she felt understood for the first time and quickly fell under his idiosyncratic and, eventually, harmful influence.
Robison writes movingly and honestly about her mental illness, her shortcomings as a parent, her difficult marriage, her traumatic relationship with Dr. Turcotte, and her two now-famous children, Augusten Burroughs and John Elder Robison, who have each written bestselling memoirs about their family. She also writes inspiringly about her hard-earned journey to sanity and clarity. An astonishing and enduring story, The Long Journey Home is a remarkable and ultimately uplifting account of a complicated, afflicted twentieth-century family.
Margaret Robison is an artist and the author of four books of poetry. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Advanced Praise for The Long Journey Home
“Margaret Robison has written, with a simple beauty and elegance that belie a powerful and unflinching honesty, about surviving mental illness, abuse, and the constrictions of womanhood in an era when all three were sorely misunderstood. A striking memoir.”
—Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, author of Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression
“After decades of feeling silenced, like so many women of the 1950s, Margaret Robison reclaims her own story. The Long Journey Home is a moving testament to the power of language in confronting the frightening, inchoate experience of madness. But it is also a wistful, richly textured evocation of rural Southern life amidst a cascade of characters both distressing and unforgettable. Robison’s fortitude, candor, and lack of rancor offer a refreshing alternative to many memoirs.”
—Gail A. Hornstein, author of Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meaning of Madness
“This is a haunting book, laced with desperation and urgency. The author’s sorely tested faith in the power of writing to heal the soul is an inspiration to any writer. And for memoirists such as myself, she raises the large question of who has the right to tell our stories. For fans of Augusten Burroughs’s Running With Scissors, the mother’s account of her life is an invitation to enter the labyrinthine world of Rashomon.”
—Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography and The Cloister Walk