Myopia: A Memoir

  • From the Publisher
April 9, 2018


Told through the life of Skoy’s oph­thal­mol­o­gist father, who fled the Russ­ian pogroms, Myopia asks whether we can real­ly ever know another

PLAC­ITAS, New Mex­i­co– At 91, Nathan Mit­nick is so intent on dying that he asks his daugh­ter to poi­son him with potas­si­um. At that moment, Phyl­lis M Skoy, author of Myopia, a mem­oir, won­ders if she ever real­ly knew him. Has there always been a part of him that stayed behind in those frozen places of his past where I’ll nev­er walk?” she writes.

In Myopia, Skoy fol­lows her suc­cess­ful debut nov­el What Sur­vives, with an explo­ration into her own fam­i­ly his­to­ry, as the daugh­ter of a man who fled a bru­tal life in Rus­sia marred by beat­ings and burn­ings. If this is the best God can do for his cho­sen peo­ple, Mit­nick­’s father would say, I wish he’d choose some­body else.”

With a voice that is at times fun­ny, tart and bril­liant, Skoy pro­vides in Myopia a panora­ma of Jew­ish life. Many mem­oirs have been writ­ten about the chal­lenges Jew­ish fam­i­lies have faced and their forced immi­gra­tion,” Skoy says. I have a room full of them.”

A psy­cho­an­a­lyst, Skoy became fas­ci­nat­ed with gen­er­a­tional­ly trans­mit­ted fear. The writ­ing of it took place over 30 years. This was as much a psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic process as it was a writ­ing process,” she says. What sur­prised her most was how her view of the char­ac­ters changed over time. Even in the worst of our emo­tion­al strug­gles, I don’t believe that my father was capa­ble of know­ing any of us. Through the writ­ing, I began to see my father as he tru­ly was, a man dom­i­nat­ed by his fears.”

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