Lore Segal's The Journal I Did Not Keep collects a number of the writings she has produced over the course of her illustrious, decades-long career. Made up of essays, short fiction, excerpts from her novels and bits of memoir, this collection is thoughtfully curated around the titular concept of a journal not kept.
Segal (Shakespeare's Kitchen, Half the Kingdom), now age 91, reconstructs several childhood memories that have remained with her throughout the years: hiking through the Alps with her father, trying to identify her grandmother's recipe for a special rye bread, being bullied in England as a refugee child. What emerges from these reconstructions is a consideration of the ways in which memory adapts to the lessons learned with time and age. What details have become more salient over time? How do memories organize themselves into narrative ex post facto? These are the questions Segal's writing asks her readers to consider.
As a Jewish child born in Vienna, Segal fled from the Nazis in late 1938 on one of the first Kindertransport missions. She subsequently spent the rest of her childhood and adolescence in English foster homes, mostly separated from her parents. Having lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side for the past half-century, Segal remains one of the most distinct voices of the 20th-century American literary tradition. Consistently perceptive with a wry humor lurking just beneath the surface, The Journal I Did Not Keep is a joy to read. --Emma Levy, publishing assistant, Shelf Awareness