A Cinematic Memoir
280 pp., 6 x 8 in, 20 b&w illus.
- Published: July 14, 2020
- Published: June 12, 2020
A heady cocktail of sex and trauma, refracted through the lens of ten of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic movies.
Imagine an episodic memoir that braids together insights about Alfred Hitchcock's movies with the narrative of a woman's life: scenes of growing up in Brooklyn in the sixties and seventies as the daughter of a schizophrenic mother and a traveling salesman father, adolescent sexual traumas, and adult botched marriages and relationships— all refracted through the lens of ten of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic movies.
In each chapter, the narrator—an award-winning poet—trains her idiosyncratic lens on a different film and then onto the uncanny connections they conjure up from her own life. A singular cliffhanging tale, reminiscent in style of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran and Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk.
Often startling, full of surprises, this one-of-a-kind memoir is both eerie and entertaining. It is a candid experiment in memory retrieval with the aid of Hitchcock movies, until finally what we get is a fusion, life recalled as a riveting dream film: part-horror, part-romance.
Sharon Dolin performs a miracle in her memoir, deconstructing Hitchcock films and using the shards to help build a mosaic of coming of age in 1960s and '70s Brooklyn and living a woman's life in landscapes as diverse as Hitchcock's own. Every chapter glimmers and surprises with its insights into Hitchcock's scenes and his personal obsessions, which Dolin then redirects to an exploration of identity, sexuality, gender roles, and mental illness. This is a rich American story!
Bonnie Jo Campbell
Sharon Dolin's candid memoir of mid-century working class Brooklyn (and beyond) is one only a poet could have written. Not because it is "poetic"—in fact it is sharply narrated, without gloss, even offering the hair-raising twists of a mystery novel. The echo of the Hitchcock movies that shapes the book's chapters is no mere literary device. It's an uncanny, captivating choral presence that brings depth of field to this history of family life and erotic urgency.
Hitchcock Blonde is a kaleidoscope of comedy and sorrow, a deep dive into the ways popular culture informs innocence and experience. Original and unforgettable.