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 Memoir Review    



Just Beneath My Skin:
Autobiography and Self-Discovery
By Patricia Foster
University of Georgia Press, 2004
190 pages
ISBN: 0-8203-2688-7; trade paper original, $12.95
ISBN: 0-8203-2682-8; library edition, $39.95

Patricia Foster is always an interesting, thoughtful, and provocative writer. Just Beneath My Skin continues Foster's interest in the essay as a form; the self as a subject; and the experience of the writer attempting to make the personal autobiography transcendent and universal. 

The eleven linked essays are divided into three sections (Inside the Girls' Room, Inside the Writing Room, and Inside My Skin) each conveying Foster's themes -- the rural South during the changes wrought by integration (1950-1970), autobiography as a tool for self-discovery, and the ways autobiography helps the artist claim a "cultural identity." She unapologetically takes on the taboo topics of class, race, gender, and caste. 

Refusing to believe "the personal essay is dead," Foster uses her experiences as artist, writer, teacher, wife, love, woman, and daughter to question what it means to live a thoughtful life, to reach out to "other," and to make peace with the inevitable changes. 

Intelligent, self-depreciating, warm, and lively, Just Beneath My Skin is engaging and thought-provoking. 

Patricia Foster, Associate Professor in the MFA Program in Nonfiction at the University of Iowa, is the author of All the Lost Girls; editor of Minding the Body and Sister to Sister; and co-editor of The Healing Circle. The recipient of the Pen/Jerard Fund Award, the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, a Dean's Scholar Award, and a Florida Arts Council Award, Foster's short stories and essays have been published in literary magazines and anthologies.   

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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