by Tama Janowitz

Dey Street Books

“She wrote so well without really saying anything,” Tama Janowitz writes of her teacher at Barnard College, in New York. Readers might level the same insult at Janowitz, with caveats. Scream, a collection of essays about her semi-famous life, reads as though it were put together in a rush. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining, which it is – in small doses – largely because of her take-no-prisoners style of writing. Janowitz reminds us of her Brat Pack status, alongside Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney, and tempts us with glimpses of her star-spangled life, being friends with Andy Warhol, an acquaintance of Lou Reed and a lover of British novelist Lawrence Durrell (he was 63 at the time; she 19). But then there is her weird family life, with a stoner of a father, a psychiatrist who thinks nothing of asking her to reimburse him for money spent on her upbringing. And there’s her mother, a poet who always let her do whatever she wanted. It’s in the descriptions of her mother’s mental disintegration that you see Janowitz’s literary gift.