TRUTH BE TOLD

Pat Pol­lard mem­oir reads like a se­cret scan­dal: our own

Tempo - - •LITERARY ARTS• -

RCom­men­tary by Vir­ginia L. Clark ivet­ing hon­esty is how Pat Pol­lard’s mem­oir, “Long Time Lost” struck me, mo­ments into the first few pages. De­scrib­ing her progress from be­ing an adoptee to a birth mother, or as she scathingly de­scribes it, from be­ing an “unloved child to an in­ca­pable mother,” I raced through her words, won­der­ing how a per­son sur­vives such truth-telling, nearly one truth per page of her

260-page book.

It’s one thing to cre­ate a fic­tion based on life ex­pe­ri­ence, but it is quite an­other to tell the un­var­nished truth about butcher­ing one of life’s most sa­cred cows – moth­er­hood – and mess­ing with all its vaunted, nay, “di­vine” trap­pings.

In the end, I con­tend Pol­lard’s bru­tal hon­esty about her deal­ings with so­cial fic­tions is ul­ti­mately free­ing for the reader and so­ci­ety in gen­eral. That is, if you can stop look­ing over your shoul­der to see if some­one knows you can re­late to her dilem­mas.

Faced with the same moth­er­hood cir­cum­stances, I’m fairly cer­tain I would have lied to my­self and in­sisted I fell within so­ci­ety’s bell-shaped curve and never said an­other word about it.

Not only does she not dis­ap­pear those cir­cum­stances into Nev­erEver Land, she ac­tu­ally drags them up front and cen­ter. This is the first snip­pet she pulls out for the reader to con­sider be­fore div­ing head­long into the Hades of her unloved child­hood:

“‘Baby Thrown Out Win­dow Dies; Mother Is Charged With Mur­der.’ The New York Times head­line sprang from the page like an ac­cu­sa­tion; it was al­most my story some 50 years ago.”

OK, maybe it’s be­cause we are of the same gen­er­a­tion, a few years apart. We’re both po­ets and writ­ers. We both were raised Catholic, got in­volved in Ju­daism, went to Is­rael, learned a lit­tle He­brew, formed sim­i­lar judge­ments about Arabs, Jews and the goyis­che kopfs of the world, and ul­ti­mately ended up in Taos. Not!

Pol­lard sets a new stan­dard for “the truth shall set you free.” It’s as if she spent the past few decades qui­etly and pre­cog­ni­tively lay­ing the ground­work for the gen­der-bend­ing #MeToo move­ment that has ex­ploded the male-fe­male in­equal­ity di­vide that has ex­isted since the dawn of time.

Pol­lard bares it all, al­low­ing no so­cial shame or squeamish­ness to ob­struct the stat­ing of her truth, re­gard­less of her com­plic­ity.

In the end, I be­lieve Pol­lard’s pub­lic mem­oir kills the out­moded fic­tion that ego cre­ates about each of us ev­ery day and shows us how we can emerge re­newed by the trans­form­ing fire of our truth.

As author Brad Blan­ton says in “Rad­i­cal Hon­esty: How to Trans­form Your Life by Telling the Truth”:

“In­tense emo­tional at­tach­ment to any value, any virtue, any set of ‘shoulds’ is a dis­ease, a men­tal ill­ness, a con­di­tion of self­mur­der and cul­tural as­sas­si­na­tion.”

Pol­lard pre­sents “Long Time Lost” (Nighthawk Press, 2018) at a SOMOS read­ing and book sign­ing, Satur­day (Feb. 17), at 7 p.m., at 108-B Civic Plaza Drive. Get it and read it. You’ll be glad you did.

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