Space Heart: A Me­moir in Stages

Linda Buck­mas­ter Bur­row Press (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $16 (128pp) 978-1-941681-73-2

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction - AIMEE JODOIN

Poet­i­cally com­posed vi­gnettes form Linda Buck­mas­ter’s bril­liant me­moir Space Heart, which ex­plores how cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy and fam­ily life jux­ta­pose in Amer­i­can cul­ture. Buck­mas­ter elo­quently pro­cesses the dif­fi­cul­ties she’s faced with grace and skill.

Be­cause she grew up in 1950s and ‘60s Florida near Cape Canaveral, Buck­mas­ter is fully im­mersed in the cul­ture of that time and place. The space race spurred by Sput­nik, the Latin mu­sic and life­style brought to Florida by Cuban refugees, the peace-and-love mind­set in­tro­duced by hip­pies: she is truly a prod­uct of her era and lo­cale. Ob­sessed with as­tro­nauts and cow­boys, she is a pioneer in her own right: when she was ten, she was one of the first open-heart surgery pa­tients, the hole in her heart re­paired with Te­flon, the same ma­te­rial used in as­tro­nauts’ suits.

The first half of the book ex­plores Buck­mas­ter’s child­hood. Her ex­pe­ri­ences are gor­geously ren­dered through her keen at­ten­tion to de­tail. In the sec­ond half, she delves into the psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact of those events with a sense of nos­tal­gia and yearn­ing for comprehension of the past. Es­pe­cially when she is writ­ing about her brother and their strained re­la­tion­ship with their al­co­holic, rocket en­gi­neer fa­ther, the depth of her in­tel­lec­tual un­der­stand­ing is heartrend­ingly re­vealed.

Each chap­ter could stand on its own as a prose-po­etic es­say. They reach far into the depths of the top­ics they ex­plore. Wo­ven to­gether as they are, the chap­ters ex­pose a puz­zle of many mys­te­ri­ous pieces that fit beau­ti­fully to­gether. From re­mem­ber­ing mos­quito trucks spew­ing DDT to watch­ing the Chal­lenger ex­plo­sion live on tele­vi­sion, all scenes are writ­ten with pic­turesque im­agery and care­ful anal­y­sis of their pur­pose­fully in­cluded de­tails.

A cathar­tic me­moir, Space Heart of­fers cul­tural con­text for an ex­tra­or­di­nary and unique life.

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