Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient
Ohan Press


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By Helene Pilibosian

The author presents a highly detailed account of the lives of her Armenian immigrant parents and life in Watertown, Massachusetts as a youngster. This includes an ethnography of the village in historic Armenia her parents came from after the Armenian Genocide as well as descriptions of East Watertown and Watertown High School. She continues with her study of humanities in Harvard's continuing education, including the study of literature with Howard Mumford Jones and Paul Engle, presenting many anecdotes and descriptions in a tract that becomes a tribute to the art and the craft of poetry and prose.

Depression has bothered her, and health problems later intrude as she has a cardiac arrest during a routine surgery. Dwight E. Harken, M.D., an outstanding thoracic surgeon, saves her life with the best medical skill available in 1963. The book thus bears the marks of oral history, Harvard history, and medical history. Travel to Europe and the Middle East with her husband adds to the action, as do hundreds of names of people and places she encounters in all phases of her experience. She learns a great deal about many kinds of people. Later she reads the theories of Carl Gustave Jung and becomes a follower. In a complicated way, the memory of her surgery and these theories lead her to a mystical experience, which in turn fires her literary inspiration.

Ohan Press (2010)