In her first memoir, Jamison focuses on some of the most intimate relationships of her life: her consuming love for her young daughter, a ruptured marriage once swollen with hope, and the shaping legacy of her own parents' complicated bond. In examining what it means for a woman to be many things at once—a mother, an artist, a teacher, a lover—Jamison places the magical and the mundane side by side in surprising ways.
Her most inward book ... The meaning is found precisely where it repeats something practically any adult person will recognize: a fear of what is happening within their own intimacies ... There is little cruelty in her finished work, though that’s not to say there is no pain; I winced hard at some of her recollections of how her marriage ended ... Splinters is that other love story, the one in love with our dedication to yet another kind of love, and another, and another.
We live in a golden age of autobiographical women’s writing ... As if the urgency of motherhood has retired the need for those inflecting techniques, she tells her tale straightforwardly ... Her true subject has stayed intact: the tormented ambiguity of all action, ethical and aesthetic and personal, and the consequent divisions of the self ... For a long time, 'woman writer' was an epithet in literary culture. Jamison and her peers are something much subtler: writers investigating womanhood as a category in the world, a way of being perceived, a set of challenges and fears.
This one is slimmer, less digressive, more focused on Jamison’s singular experience [than The Recovering]. But it, like its predecessor, makes a particular life ramify more broadly in intriguing and poignant ways ... About the bewildering nature of new motherhood, the implosion of Jamison’s marriage, parenting solo, dating as a single mother, coping with illness and lockdown. But it is also about storytelling ... Though this well of grief and guilt is not dramatized, it is not unglimpsed. Jamison writes around the hole in her story, and we can feel the gravity of its pull in her presentation of herself ... Her ferocious honesty, her stringent refusal to sugarcoat, her insistence on inhabiting and depicting moments in all their evanescence and incandescence make her one of the most compelling and trustworthy memoirists we have.