Vivian Gornick’s relationship with her mother is difficult. She describes it as ‘locked in a narrow channel of acquaintance, intense and binding.’ Out of duty, or perhaps more aptly, guilt, she and her mother regularly meet for strolls along the streets of Manhattan. Once in awhile, they’ll hit a pleasant stride but most often their walks are tinged with a rage so hot her mother will stop strangers on the street and say, ‘This is my daughter. She hates me’.
Weaving between their tempestuous present-day jaunts and the author’s memories of growing up in a bustling, blue-collar tenement house in the Bronx, Vivian Gornick traces her lifelong struggle for independence from her mother and, along the way, realises how she is still very much her mother’s daughter.
Originally published in 1987 to great acclaim, Fierce Attachments is a beloved and intimate story by a masterful writer.