Remember, I became a mother in the shadow of the '50s. The fact that my parents had led theseadventuresome lives before I was born just made it feel to me as if you can have a family and takesome risks. My parents had crossed the Pacific and gone to wild places with small children.* * * * *
A Nobel Prize
Photo credit: JFK Library, "Nobel Laureates at the White House"
What was the impact of having Pearl Buck as your aunt, in terms of your being a mother anda woman and how you've thought about all that?
The major impact on my mother preceded Pearl, which was that she was born to a mother who had lost four children and was really not available as a mother to my mother. And so that lefta huge vacuum, which Pearl filled. Pearl was seven years older, and I think in many ways was asurrogate mother to my mother. And of course, Pearl was not Pearl Buck at that point. She wasmy mom's older sister. But she was doubtless a very large presence, given that Pearl was always alarge presence.
My mom said in later years that she had an inferiority complex, and I think that stemmedfrom both of those things, from not having a really robust sense of her own mother's presence,and Pearl's large presence. But I have to say down the road, Pearl used her connections to opendoors for my mother so that my mother's writing career was fostered and supported and nurtured by Pearl's editors. And the fact of my mother having that writing career made an enormousdifference in her life and in mine, so that the world I grew up in was one in which I had a mother who was available as a mother and who had a life of her own, which I have to say, my mothermanaged to do that in a way that I'm sure I was not able to do as skillfully. She wrote while I