Places in the Bone: A Memoir

Places in the Bone: A Memoir

Places in the Bone: A Memoir

Places in the Bone: A Memoir


In a series of unflinching vignettes laced with heartbreak and often with humor, Places in the Bone gives an unforgettable account of loss and survival, childhood secrets banished from memory, and the power of language to retrieve the missing parts of oneself and one's past. Woven together with unmistakable lyricism, Carol Dine's narrative moves back and forth in time and place--from the childhood bedroom that fills her with fear, to a hospital room after her surgery for breast cancer, to an adobe hut in a New Mexico artists' colony where she escapes and finds her voice.

This voice, it turns out, is a chorus--a harmony of cries, both anguished and triumphant. Among them we hear a young girl speak about the abuse by her father; we hear the tormented reflections of a mother who, for several years after a divorce, loses contact with her young son; and we hear the testimony of a cancer survivor. Through it all, we feel the determination, courage, and creativity of a woman who has spent more than two decades confronting her past, her body, and her identity. Despite her struggles, Dine finds positive influences in her life, including her mentor, Anne Sexton, who recognizes the fire in her words, and Stanley Kunitz, whose indomitable spirit provides enduring inspiration.

More than a story of personal loss, the memoir moves us with its humanity, its unnerving wit, and its defiant faith. As the fragments come together, we experience Dine's joy in living and her reconciliation with the past that allow her to renew bonds with her son, her sister, and her mother. In page after page, we witness the power of art to refigure a body, to transform suffering, and ultimately, to redeem.


July 1983

On the day of my father’s funeral, my mother passes out the audio cassettes he had recorded. “This is from Daddy,” she says, handing me an envelope. I can see the silhouette of the tape. Alone in my apartment, I turn it on. in the background, the air mattress sighs beneath my father.

“Ca-rol,” my father begins, dividing my name the way he did when he yelled. But now his voice is like watery soup. “I’m leaving a tape for you to listen to after I’m gone. We haven’t seen eye to eye for intermittent times,” he says formally, as if doing dictation on a patient. “I found it very hard to be supportive of some of the things you wanted to do or achieve. But you are my daughter, and I hope you’ll find peace and comfort after I’m gone.”

Then, almost inaudibly, my father says, “I’ve got to say I love you.” I cannot listen anymore —I put the tape in the middle drawer of my wooden desk.

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