“Without sensationalism, totally outside the chic-trash mode, Carolyn See writes from way down inside the pain, the depression, and the lies that encumber most American lives. She knows what ‘family values’ really are, and tells her story with a hard-earned sweetness that transforms the unbearable into clear profit for the reader’s mind and heart.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
“I’ve always thought Carolyn See was one of the most intelligent as well as funniest living writers, and Dreaming is indeed brilliantly intelligent and terrifically funny.”—Alice Adams
In this bittersweet and beautifully written memoir, Carolyn See embarks on nothing less than reevaluation of the American Dream. “This is a history,” she writes, “of how drugs and drink have worked in our family for the last fifty—actually it turned out to be closer to a hundred—years. In varying degrees, it’s history seen through a purple haze. It’s full of secrets and chaos and distortions, and secretly remembered joys. I’m beginning to think it may be the unwritten history of America.”
Although it features a clan in which dysfunction was something of a family tradition, Dreaming is no “victim’s story” or temperance tract. With a wry humor and not a trace of self-pity, See writes of fights and breakups and hard times, but also of celebration and optimism in the face of adversity. The story of See’s own family speaks for the countless people who reached for the shining American vision, found it eluded their grasp, and then tried to make what they had glitter as best they could. Dreaming is about yearning, imagining, and reinventing oneself, about rolling with the punches and continuing on. In this fiercely funny and deeply empathetic book, See shows us that the wild life, for better and worse, has made us what we are.
Praise for Dreaming
“Carolyn See, in her singular fashion, captures a throw-away world. It is a class that is neither upper nor middle nor under there, simply there, alive with troubles. In so doing, she tells as much about the United States as any commentator around and about today.”—Studs Terkel
“I read Dreaming with fascination. The inimitable Carolyn See voice is linked now to some sort of historical and familial (what a family!—families!) context.”—Joyce Carol Oates
“The impact of Carolyn See’s dreaming will likely stay in the reader’s memory as a singular ode to the human spirit.”—William F. Buckley, Jr.
“Carolyn See is battling the family demons that grip America by the throat.”—Bebe Moore Campbell
“Autobiography . . . elevated to literature.”—Jonathan Kellerman
“Dreaming is an unforgettable memoir that shimmers with intelligence, wit, moxie, and a fiercely American spirit of survival. I haven’t laughed—or cried—so hard in years.”—Elizabeth Benedict
“I am stunned and completely in awe of the honesty and courage it must have taken to write this book. I would challenge any man who ever dismissed women’s writing as being too romantic to read this book and ever feel the same way again.”—Fannie Flagg
From the Hardcover edition.