Monday, October 19, 2009

Biography: After the Falls by Catherine Gildiner

Ten years after the publication of Too Close to the Falls, the critically acclaimed biography of growing up Gildiner in Lewiston, New York, clinical psychologist -- and sometime writer -- Catherine Gildiner brings us another chunk of her life in After the Falls (Knopf Canada). This time out Gildiner explores her precocious coming-of-age in the 1960s.

Pretty much as After the Falls opens, Gildiner bridges her old life with the one that’s about to begin:
As the car chugged toward the top of the escarpment, I, like Lot’s wife, looked back at the town below me. I had no idea then that I was leaving behind the least-troubled years of my life. Strange, since I felt there was no way I could cause more trouble than I had in Lewiston.
On the surface of things, there’s not much here. Let’s face it: book one dealt with the childhood years of a non-celebrity. Someone who most of us probably would not be that interested in knowing more about. Book two deals with the same person’s teenage years. And a third book (one can only imagine the Falls allusions) is currently under Gildiner’s pen. But Gildiner’s successful telling of these tales is as much about her perspective as it is about her experience. That, of course, and charm. Is there sometimes too much charm? Maybe just a little. But she is an ordinary person doing -- mostly -- fairly ordinary things, but relating them in an extraordinarily skillful way. In the end, I think, she entertains us by reminding of us our own specialness. A fantastic gift.

Film rights have been optioned.

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