Tracing her moral struggles to the day she accidentally took a sip of water before her Communion—a mortal sin—Mary McCarthy gives us eight funny and heartrending essays about the illusive and redemptive nature of memory
“During the course of writing this, I’ve often wished that I were writing fiction.”
Originally published in large part as standalone essays in the New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar, Mary McCarthy’s acclaimed memoir begins with her recollections of a happy childhood cut tragically short by the death of her parents during the influenza epidemic of 1918.
Tempering memory with invention, McCarthy describes how, orphaned at six, she spent much of her childhood shuttled between two sets of grandparents and three religions—Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. One of four children, she suffered abuse at the hands of her great-aunt and uncle until she moved to Seattle to be raised by her maternal grandparents. Early on, McCarthy lets the reader in on her secret: The chapter you just read may not be wholly reliable—facts have been distilled through the hazy lens of time and distance.
In Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, McCarthy pays homage to the past and creates hope for the future. Reminiscent of Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, this is a funny, honest, and unsparing account blessed with the holy sacraments of forgiveness, love, and redemption.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary McCarthy including rare images from the author’s estate.