Margot Mifflin
May 09, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Seven Tattoos: A Memoir in the Flesh

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Peter Trachtenberg
genre
Memoir

We gave it an A-

Peter Trachtenberg’s tattoos memorialize the people, places, and states of mind this whip-smart writer describes with dizzying intensity in this seven-part narrative. From his pedestrian heroin habit to his stab at religious redemption at his mother’s deathbed, the author sifts through the spiritual wreckage of his life. Trachtenberg yanks insight out of everything from his travels in Indonesia to his mother’s hypochondria, faltering only in his accounts of crippled romances. Although it occasionally degenerates into a postmodern mush of secondary references and stories within stories, Seven Tattoos: A Memoir in the Flesh is meaty stuff, and Trachtenberg’s use of tattoos as episodic flash cards is marvelously evocative. A-

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