Playing with Dynamite: A Memoir

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Sharon Harrigan’s autobiographical recounting of her own struggles in Playing with Dynamite examines her relationship with a brilliant brother and her international travels and studies, which all lead her deeper into a life made complex by induced memories and conflicted histories. Harrigan’s personal history includes an ill-considered marriage to a severely problematic person afflicted with a complex of agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and an unwillingness to self-extricate. Seeking freedom has to involve a choice of whether or not to terminate a probably-flawed pregnancy. As her inhibitions and self-worth problems are revealed, so, too, are the familial/paternal traumas that engendered them. Reading, one begins to be engaged with her explorations.

However, there is a dragging effect to the beginning of this exploration. Harrigan’s conflicts, erroneous memories/ suppositions, and contradictory emotional recollections make it somewhat difficult to engage with the tale. I have to believe that Harrigan’s target audience is women. Reading this as a male, it was obvious that doing so as a female would be tremendously more impactful. Familial relationships and their development and destruction are examined in excruciating detail. Feminine topics are richly evocative of thought when the author finally arrives at a stance requiring the reader to open their mind and resolve to re-examine long-held suppositions.

I earnestly recommend this excellently crafted personal history.

Chris Hayden been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.


Reviewed By:

Author Sharon Harrigan
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 248 pages
Publisher Truman State University Press
Publish Date 2017-Oct-01
ISBN 9781612482101
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2018
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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