The Journal Keeper: A Memoir

by Phyllis Theroux

A teacher and practitioner of creative writing gives the journal treatment to six years of herlife.

  • Hardcover
  • Pages: 305 pages
  • Average Rating: 3.79 out of 5
  • Published February 23rd 2010 by Atlantic Monthly Press
  • ISBN: 0802118976 (ISBN13: 9780802118974)
  • Edition Language: English

A teacher and practitioner of creative writing gives the journal treatment to six years of her life. In her 60s, Theroux (Giovanni’s Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas, 2002, etc.) recorded her thoughts from 2000 to 2005. Here she presents them in a memoir of passing notions she considers worth savoring. She reflects on the pleasures of authorship and on the care of her mother, who seemed to posses psychic energy fields both before and after her death. The author chronicles her travels to Italy for writing seminars and the completion of a successful book while there, and she worries about her finances and the process of aging. With the thoughtful intimations of mortality come solipsistic paroxysms of passion and confusion. (The romance turns out well). Theroux writes of neighbors and nature, marks the passage of a pair of mallards and muses on the activities of an inchworm. In the elegiac tone of Our Town or E.B. White in full rustic mode, she pushes to make mundane matters large. She luxuriates in fanciful figures of speech-a friend is “like the net around a bag of onions”; living in small-town Ashland, Va., she sometimes feels “like a bulb in a teacup”-and she includes snippets from some of her favorite writers, including Thoreau, Emerson, Arthur Miller and Karen Armstrong. For current commentary and explanation, the author interrupts, in italics, the story by her former self. On the whole, Theroux offers pleasant reading and a few deep thoughts surrounded by stylish writing probably most appealing to female readers. A journal that may grace enough night tables to assuage the author’s avowed concerns about her bank balance.