Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction. By Tama Janowitz. Aug. 2016. 288p. illus. Morrow/Dey St., $25.99 (97800623913221.818.
The literary "it" gal after Slaves of New York (1986) appeared, flamboyantly outfitted, camera-attracting, unflinchingly explicit, caustically funny, and worldly wise, Janowitz published a string of eviscerating novels and a lashing essay collection, Area Code 212 (2004). She now reappears with a staggering memoir affirming that she came by her over-the-top-ness naturally, given her mean, inappropriate, pothead psychiatrist father and, after the divorce, the struggles of her poet mother. With her high-voltage candor, switchblade outrage, and seething astonishment at just how appalling people can be, Janowitz whips back and forth in time, describing the absurdity and anguish of her efforts to care for her dementia-afflicted mother in upstate New York and her crazy youthful adventures, including precipitating a relationship with writer Lawrence Durrell, taking part in a surprise photo shoot with the Sex Pistols, and partying with Andy Warhol. Sniping, scathing, grim, and hilarious, Janowitz's primal scream exposes the poisoned wellspring that gave rise to the gritty and canny ludicrousness of her novels, the highs and lows of her writing life, and the boons and traumas of fame and love. --Donna Seaman