Saturday, November 21, 2020

How I came Into My Inheritance by Dorothy Gallgher

 Here are Albinoni's Oboe Concertos.




 This highly engaging read is the story of the author's family and their history. She starts with her parents at the end of their lives. They are old and irascible. Living in New York City, Dorothy Gallagher finds herself driving back and forth from her home to upstate New York to care for her parents. They live in filthy conditions and refuse to take care of themselves. She can't get them to move nearer to her or even in with her. Social Services inform her that they can do nothing against their will.

They eventually die and that is the first chapter. The rest of the book is going back in time to when her parents immigrated from the Ukraine to America before WWI, worked hard and succeeded and stayed devout Communists. Even when news of Stalin's atrocities were undeniable, they waved it away. OK, people starved to death by the millions. You have to break a few eggs to make omelets.

Ms. Gallagher is not impressed and she deftly exposes the irrationality of clinging to an ideal when the consequences are fleshed out into reality and come crashing down around it.

The author was raised on the edge of Harlem and saw it change from predominantly Irish, Scottish, and Italian families to mostly black (she says negro, but that seems a bit dated). Being the only Jewish girl at school, in addition to being the only white student, she got beat up regularly but was told by her parents that the bullies were the victims because of their color, not her.

She rode that precarious edge where anything you said or did was considered racist or oppressive. Not by black people, mind you, but by her parents and their fellow Jewish communists. It's hard to believe this was back in the forties. It sounds like today.

Ms. Gallagher does not sugarcoat her parents or their family members. They are presented in all the lively, colorful glory from their lives back in the Ukraine to the rest of the lives in New York and eventually Florida and California.

Her writing is reminiscent of Isaac Bashivis Singer with wry humor and charismatic characters, except she is writing a biography of her family, not fiction.

The last couple of vignettes are of her attempts and finally success at becoming a professional writer.

I read this book in two sittings on the same day, that's how readable it is.


Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sharon - This does sound like it is an interesting story about interesting lives. It also seems to involve accounts of people who espouse really bad politics. The tendency to call everything racist and blame the victim when the targets are the wrong identity does sound very modern. The roots of this stuff are very old.

Have a great week!

mudpuddle said...

i began listening to the Albinoni and forgot to read the post! the foibles of age... anyway, it sounds like a powerful story, one with a lot of travail and sorrow... so many people have had such bitter lives, it's quite depressing...

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Brian!

I must say that cognitive biases fascinate me. I hope that I am always honest with myself about reality and am not afraid to admit I'm wrong.

Hope you and yours are doing well!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi mudpuddle,

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to depress you. I think you have a lot of spirit. Hope you're biking around town and enjoying yourself.

I love the Albinoni too.

mudpuddle said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Josh!

Debbie Nolan said...

Sharon this sounds like a good read. Isn't it fascinating how folks are blinded by their own desires to believe lies. The author had to be strong to rise above such an upbringing. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Hugs!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi mudpuddle,

We had Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. It was very nice. I hope you and Mrs. Mudpuddle had a good time with your children and loved ones.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Debbie,

The human mind's ability to deceive itself never ceases to amaze me. I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving as well!

ashok said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Thank you, ashok!