Dancer with Bruised Knees

McFall, Lynne. Dancer with Bruised Knees. San Fransisco: Chronicle Books, 1994.

This is an extremely difficult book to read and I can see why Nancy included it in her chapter, “Families in Trouble” (Book Lust, page 83). Sarah Blight is a middle aged photographer getting over a bad breakup. You, too, would call it a bad breakup if your ex’s new lover puts out your eye with a pool stick. But, it gets worse. Sarah’s coming of age and childhood weren’t that kind either. A mentally ill mother, brother accused of a gruesome murder, an uncle who committed suicide…the list goes on. Even the farm cats weren’t safe from abuse. What happened to the cats, by the way, was one of the worst parts about the story. If you are an animal lover it’s tough to take. Oddly enough, despite all the drama I was in love with Lynne McFall’s writing. The Blight family (aptly named) is every family you have ever known. Dancer with Bruised Knees is a short book, around 215 pages, but one that will stick with you long after you finish the final page.
One of the things I loved about McFall’s book is that she likes music. You can tell by the way she references songs. I counted over 15 songs and that wasn’t counting the hymns. I would love to make a mixed tape of all the music she references.

I was finding passages to quote left and right. I loved McFall’s writing that much. Here are just a few, “Now that there’s no choice I am stupid with grief” (p 1), “He was involuntarily retired” (p 3), ” I was raised an atheist with a sympathy for religious ritual” (p 5) and “But even those who are difficult need to be loved, and in that I am no exception” (p 17). I could go on and on with all the passages I loved but I said that already.

Reason read: June is National Family Month so go spend time with that brother, even if he is suspected of murdering his third ex-wife and stuffing her body in a garbage can!

Author fact: At the time of Dancer’s publication McFall was a philosophy teacher at Syracuse.

Book trivia: Parts of Dancer appeared in Story magazine.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Families in Trouble” (p 83).



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