The Unspeakable by Meghan Dunn – A Review
A keen observer of her own life, Meghan Dunn has written a collection about internal conflicts surrounding relationships, sexual identity and more.
For Dunn, growing up includes the choice about whether or not we will need social norms to guide us, or we will make the choice to rebel.
One of Dunn’s more poignant essays, called “Matricide,” is about her experience watching her mother die from gallbladder cancer. On a deeper level, it explores their conflicted relationship and Dunn’s lack of faith in her mother’s authenticity. She startles the reader at the end: “I had been slightly worried that when my mother actually died I’d be more grief-stricken than I’d expected….But none of that happened. I was as relieved as I planned to be.”
In another essay, called “Honorary Dyke,” she discusses her sexual rebellion. She remembers being taken to a gay bar, which freaked her out so much that she realized she wasn’t a lesbian …“so much as someone who appreciated a good haircut.”
She covers a lot of territory in many ways, and not enough in others. In one essay, “Invisible City,” she writes about a party at Nora Ephron’s house in Los Angeles. There was great potential in this story, and though well written in ways, in others it is awkward and flat.
In other essays, she doesn’t hold back. In “Difference Maker,” she discusses working with foster children at the same time she has a miscarriage. The irony did not escape her, as she encounters children who seem …” self-centered and marginalized almost to the point of utter hopelessness.”
In addition, when she speaks of aging, she writes of being often being the oldest person in the room. What she misses most is the feeling that more is coming, that “the present is merely a planning phase” for the rest of her life.