Sarah Saffian
May 16, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If I never again read about Harrison’s estranged relationship with her too-young mother, her childhood aspirations to sainthood, and her grandmother’s show cats, it’ll be too soon. (To her credit, these personal essays don’t trot out her incestuous affair with her father, covered both in her 1997 memoir, The Kiss, and her earlier ”novel,” Thicker Than Water.) Recycled demons aside, Harrison remains a master of her craft, with musings that are lyrical, insightful, and haunting. Often, though, she overindulges, true storytelling devolving into linguistic preening: Passages about ticks, lice, and cats giving birth are as tedious in their painstaking detail as they are unsavory.

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