When journalist Dan Cryer was just eight, his mother unexpectedly died. In their grief, he and his siblings shut out all memories of their beloved Pauline. In this haunting memoir, Cryer recreates his quest to discover this gentle mystery woman, her small-town midwestern milieu, and how this haunting absence has shaped his emotional life.
“A lovely book: moving, textured, honest, tinged with love and regret and bewilderment and faith and gentle humor.”
—Poet and editor George Witte, author of Does She Have a Name?
“Dan Cryer tells the story of his mother’s death and the impact on the eight-year-old he was with steely precision and deep courage, yet with the lyricism of the esteemed writer he has been in a long career. It is a sad and elegiac story but also a haunting mystery tale—as Dan assembles letters, diaries, yearbooks and newspaper clippings to recreate a portrait of the woman he barely knew. Along the way, the reader will get a vivid, nuanced picture of daily life in a Midwestern town governed by the centrality of church, sports and the doctrine of 'niceness.' It's a work you will want to share with people you hold dear.”
—Joseph Berger, author of Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust
“This intelligent and deeply moving memoir opens the door to a lost time and place, while evoking the mysteries of a mother-child bond lost and found.”
—Laura Pedersen, author of Buffalo Gal: A Memoir
Dan Cryer, a former book critic at Newsday and Pulitzer Prize finalist, is the author of Being Alive and Having to Die: The Spiritual Odyssey of Forrest Church. He has contributed to The Salon.Com Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Authors and Good Roots: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in Ohio, and to many publications, including The New Republic, Salon, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.