Book Review “An Incredible Talent for Existing” Pamela Jane

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It is 1965, the era of love, light and revolution. While the romantic narrator imagines a bucolic future in an old country house with children running through the dappled sunlight, her husband plots to organize a revolution and fight a guerrilla war in the Catskills.

Their fantasies are on a collision course.

The clash of visions turns into an inner war of identities when the author embraces radical feminism; she and her husband are comrades in revolution but combatants in marriage; she is a woman warrior who spends her days sewing long silk dresses reminiscent of a Henry James novel. One half of her isn’t speaking to the other half.

And then, just when it seems that things cannot possibly get more explosive, her wilderness cabin burns down and Pamela finds herself left with only the clothes on her back.

From her vividly evoked existential childhood (“the only way I would know for sure that I existed was if others lots of others acknowledged it”) to writing her first children’s book on a sugar high during a glucose tolerance test, Pamela Jane takes the reader along on a highly entertaining personal, political, and psychological adventure.


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First lines: In 1965, when I was eighteen, I ran away to Portland, Oregon. Running away was an act of rebellion, but also of faith. In one beautiful leap I would escape my family, my past, and the insufferable person I’d been living with for the past few years – my teenage self. This person was quite obviously screwed up.

This coming of age story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Pamela Jane leads the reader through her turbulent and often very lonely childhood with a gentle hand. Her writing lulls the reader into her life and its almost like sitting down to tea with someone very wise and well traveled to garner their wisdom.

I discovered Pamela Jane through my local library when I was perusing the children’s section for my son. I found “Little Goblins Ten” and was so taken with the book I wrote a Review.  From there I reviewed another of her children’s books upon request from Jane herself. “Little Elfie One” .

While reading this memoir, I often found myself wistfully looking at Jane’s books on my son’s shelf and feeling amazed at the trials it took for them to come into the world. Jane’s memoir reminds us that all people have struggles- even children’s authors. 😉

Jane’s memoir is incredibly personal and introspective. She poured her soul into it and trust me, it shows. The warring feelings of discontent and the longing for the “Leave it to Beaver” home are feelings that I feel are multigenerational. 

Jane Depicts life growing up with a mentally ill mother and a brilliant father. The fears of becoming like her mother as well as the competition of achieving something great like her father must have been difficult emotions. I imagine a mental war of sorts.

How very brave of Mrs Jane to write such an intimate memoir. I am overjoyed to learn that Mrs. Jane has found peace and success in life. I greatly enjoyed getting to know this amazing author better.

5 Stars

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: An Incredible Talent for Existing | Series:  N/A |  Author(s): Pamela Jane |Publisher: Open Books Press / Publication Date: 2-1-2016 |Pages: 246 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1941799215  | Genre(s): Memoir | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-30-2016 |Source: Copy from author

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