Review by Choice Review
The putative end of the millennium (1999) proved to be a banner year for students of life writing. James Olney's magisterial Memory & Narrative (CH, Jun'99) has found an equally provocative counterpart in Eakin's latest offering on the subject. In Fictions in Autobiography (CH, Dec'85), Eakin explored, among other things, the controversy between those who hold that the self is prior to language and those who claim that the self is forever deferred in language, never fully present. In this latest work, Eakin is "reluctant to speak of 'the self,' for the definite article suggests something too fixed and unified to represent the complexity of self-experience." Eakin opts instead for "register of self," and he explores first the place of the body in such registers. His readings in neuroscience (especially Gerald Edelman) do much to steer him away from a Cartesian mind/body split. Eakin goes on to discuss "relational selves" as a corrective to "the myth of autonomy" and "storied selves," the connection between identify formation and narration. Finally he discusses the ethics of life writing. Eakin raises more questions than he answers definitely, and the book is the stronger for it. Those who read only two books on the subject of life writing should make sure they are Olney's and Eakin's. E. J. Dupuy; St. Joseph Seminary College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.