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By Annie Dillard

A booklet that immediately captured the hearts of readers around the state, An American Childhood is Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Annie Dillard's poignant, shiny memoir of starting to be up in Pittsburgh within the Fifties.

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Page 13 But it all worked out as Lois had foretold. I don't remember what we ate, but the dance music was smooth and easy, and I box-stepped around the floor with what she assured me was great aplomb, missing no beats. Nobody stared at us, although the handsome drummer kept raising a leering eyebrow at Lois as we went by, which pleased her enormously. We seemed to dance especially well to a number called ''Street of Dreams," so at Lois's request the band repeated it twice before we left the place.

In Berryman's earlier work, however, such a correlation is seldom to be found: as Conarroe demonstrates, before 1948 most of John's poetry is "humorless, abstract, often bloodless," because he did not allow his intensely emotional, tempestuous nature to express itself in his poems. For him, therefore, more than for poets whose writing does not exhibit so drastic a change of mode in mid-career, a biographical account of his youth may be especially significant. I had the luck to know John intimately during the decade (193343) preceding that of his marriage to Eileen Simpson, who has well recounted the events of his life from 1943 to 1953.

The book's epigraph is from A Shropshire Lad in The Collected Poems of A. E. , and is reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, Inc. , and Kate Berryman. , and Kate Berryman. " He goes on to show that in Berryman's best work, the famous Dream Songs that won him the Pulitzer Prize, the very warp and woof of the poet's life became the essential stuff of the poetry: "He was a spiritual historian, and his great poem, like Whitman's, was mainly the outcroppings of his own emotional and personal nature....

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An American Childhood by Annie Dillard

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