Riveting 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 pre-cognitively 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 self-murder 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.