Normally, if the author of a confessional memoir were to name-drop her luxury SUV in the third sentence of the first paragraph, I’d roll my eyes. But in Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away (St. Martin’s Press; Aug. 2017), Alice Anderson sandwiches the Land Rover between the mention of the FEMA trailer she’s living in and a row of guns presented to her by her best friend’s father. These juxtapositions are exactly what makes her memoir of surviving post-Katrina Mississippi and an abusive husband so compelling.
Dysfunction happens in homes decorated by Walmart and Pottery Barn alike. Anderson and her three children might live in a nice neighborhood, but their affluence only masks the horrible physical and emotional abuse inflicted by Anderson’s husband, a prominent local physician. His obsessive compulsive disorder and other psychological issues morph from a nightly car-care routine to rigid dinnertime guidelines to an outright murder attempt.
As Anderson enters the court system to petition for divorce and custody of her children, it seems like a clear-cut case; but the family law system has other things in mind, especially in conservative Mississippi. The story continues with her unbelievable legal and health battles and her attempts to find peace and love in this new world she’s living in.
Only a poet could write a book about horrendous abuse and miscarriage of justice and tell it as smoothly as melting butter.
Anderson’s skill in finding beauty amidst destruction is not only a personal strength but one of her literary strengths, as well. Only a poet could write a book about horrendous abuse and miscarriage of justice and tell it as smoothly as melting butter. For example, her friend’s father teaches her how to shoot, using homemade bullets made from old printing presses. Anderson writes, “ ‘You a natural, girl. You gonna be okay.’ I fell into his chest that smelled like chocolate and gunpowder and grease, laid my hand over his heart, felt it beat. My other hand still held that pistol, scorching hot next to my thigh, with four more story bullets ready at the waiting.”
The optimism in this book is a reality check because it’s hard to have a pity party when reading a memoir about a woman who is a survivor in the truest sense of the word. Some Bright Morning is full of poetic grace that will make you want to be a better writer and person.