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How I Grew by Mary McCarthy {Excerpt}

How I Grew by Mary McCarthy {Excerpt}

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
The author of The Group, the groundbreaking bestseller and 1964 National Book Award finalist that shaped a generation of women, brings reminiscences of her girlhood to this intimate and illuminating memoir

How I Grew is Mary McCarthy’s intensely personal autobiography of her life from age thirteen to twenty-one.

Orphaned at six, McCarthy was raised by her maternal grandparents in Seattle, Washington. Although her official birthdate is in 1912, it wasn’t until she turned thirteen that, in McCarthy’s own words, she was “born as a mind.” With detail driven by an almost astonishing memory recall, McCarthy gives us a masterful account of these formative years. From her wild adolescence—including losing her virginity at fourteen—through her eventual escape to Vassar, the bestselling novelist, essayist, and critic chronicles her relationships with family, friends, lovers, and the teachers who would influence her writing career.

Filled with McCarthy’s penetrating insights and trenchant wit, this is an unblinkingly honest and fearless self-portrait of a young woman coming of age—and the perfect companion to McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary McCarthy including rare images from the author’s estate.
The author of The Group, the groundbreaking bestseller and 1964 National Book Award finalist that shaped a generation of women, brings reminiscences of her girlhood to this intimate and illuminating memoir

How I Grew is Mary McCarthy’s intensely personal autobiography of her life from age thirteen to twenty-one.

Orphaned at six, McCarthy was raised by her maternal grandparents in Seattle, Washington. Although her official birthdate is in 1912, it wasn’t until she turned thirteen that, in McCarthy’s own words, she was “born as a mind.” With detail driven by an almost astonishing memory recall, McCarthy gives us a masterful account of these formative years. From her wild adolescence—including losing her virginity at fourteen—through her eventual escape to Vassar, the bestselling novelist, essayist, and critic chronicles her relationships with family, friends, lovers, and the teachers who would influence her writing career.

Filled with McCarthy’s penetrating insights and trenchant wit, this is an unblinkingly honest and fearless self-portrait of a young woman coming of age—and the perfect companion to McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary McCarthy including rare images from the author’s estate.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Oct 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/17/2013

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Mary McCarthy
HOW I GREW 
1
I WAS BORN AS a mind during 1925, my bodily birth havingtaken place in 1912. Throughout the thirteen years in between,obviously, I must have had thoughts and mental impressions,perhaps even some sort of specifically cerebral life that I nolonger remember. Almost from the beginning, I had been awareof myself as “bright.” And from a very early time reasoning wasnatural to me, as it is to a great many children, doubtless toanimals as well. What is Pavlov’s conditioned reflex but aninference drawn by a dog? The activities of incessant inductionand deduction are characteristically childlike (“Why don’t we say ‘Deliver us to evil,’” I am supposed to have asked, “the way Mama does in Frederick and Nelson’s when she tells them todeliver it to Mrs. McCarthy?”) and slack off rather than intensify as we grow older. My “cute” question, quoted by my mother in aletter to her mother-in-law (apparently the last she wrote), may have been prompted by our evening prayers: did we already say the “Our Father” and the “Hail Mary” besides “Now I lay me”? Atsix, I was too young to have had a rosary.Someone, of course, was “hearing” our prayers; my father,probably, for I speak of “Mama” in the third person. It is Daddy Imust be questioning; Gertrude, our nurse, was too ignorant. Andnow, writing it down more than sixty-five years later, all of asudden I doubt the innocence of that question. There waspremeditation behind it, surely; playacting. I knew perfectly wellthat children could not pray to be delivered to evil and was only 
 
Mary McCarthy
HOW I GREW 
 being clever—my vice already—supplying my parents with“Mary’s funny sayings” to meet a sensed demand.It is possible (to be fair) that the question “Why don’t we…?” had honestly occurred to me in Frederick’s listening toMama order and being surprised to have “deliver,” an old bedtime acquaintance, pop up in the middle of a departmentstore. Or, conversely, as we intoned the Lord’s Prayer, my mindmay have raced back to Mama at Frederick’s. Which hadpriority, which bulked larger in my teeming experience, whichname had I heard more often, God’s or Frederick and Nelson’s?But if, in one way or another, the question had honestly occurredto me, the answer could not have been slow to follow, withoutrecourse to a grown-up. No, that inquiry was
saved up
for anaudience,
rehearsed.
For my father’s ear, I was not so muchreasoning as artfully mimicking the reasoning process of a child.In any case, as far as I know, this is the last of my cute sayings onrecord. After the flu, there was no one there to record them any more. Nobody was writing to her mother-in-law of the wordsand deeds of the four of us. With the abrupt disappearance of thedemand, the supply no doubt dried up. Soon our eveningprayers—we knelt in a row now, wearing scratchy pajamas withfeet in them—underwent expansion. To “God bless Mama andDaddy” something new was added: “Eternal rest grant untothem, o Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon them…”From an early time, too, I had been a great reader. My father had taught me, on his lap, before I started school—
 AChild’s Garden of Verses
and his favorite, Eugene Field, thenewspaperman poet. But in the new life instituted for us afterour parents’ death almost no books were permitted—to save

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