Wednesday, December 15, 2021

I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

I Love You But I've Chosen DarknessI Love You But I've Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In sometimes very funny and sharp prose, the author tells a story of a young woman fleeing her husband and baby daughter, probably with post-partum depression, to live in the Mojave Desert where she was raised, all true of the author. She starts the story with activities of her father, described on a Tecopa website, "Paul Watkins, the famous member of Charles Manson’s Family who testified against Manson, securing his conviction for the notorious Helter Skelter murders. Watkins founded the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce, and his daughter, writer Claire Vaye Watkins, grew up here, near the Old Spanish Trail." He died young and Claire Vaye Watkins focuses much of the later chapters on her erratic alcoholic mother and reliable sister and her many boyfriends. In many ways, this angry and intense tale smacks of memoir and reviewers label it as autofiction. Enchanted by the title, I moved quickly through the first half of this book but found it bogged down in the found letters from her mother as a teen. I skimmed until we were back in Tecopa and desert living as the author finds some peace in solitude: “Pull my hair. Be kind to all plants and animals and children. Leave me alone. That’s how I like it,” she demands in this look at the injustice of making mother and woman and artist and lover mutually exclusive.

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