Zanichkowsky's childhood had barely begun when he was burdened with responsibilities, as the older children were charged with looking after younger siblings. Discipline meant physical punishment and no child escaped without psychological stress: One of his brothers was committed to a mental hospital for several years for mysterious reasons.
Zanichkowsky attempts to examine the situation from his parents' point of view, comparing his own childhood memories with his siblings'. He learns after the fact that his mother did stand up for her children occasionally, but often found herself completely overwhelmed by her offspring. To gain some "down time," she would sometimes lock the children in their rooms.
Fourteen is dominated by the author's efforts to understand the factors that motivated his parents to have so many children, and then grasp the lack of parent-child connection. Often, it reads as if he were transcribing journal entries inspired by one of the therapy sessions he occasionally cites. The navel-gazing is not without merit, but often stalls the narrative. Fourteen still makes for absorbing reading even as Zanichkowsky circles around the same questions that have preoccupied him since his youth. Fourteen: Growing Up Along in a Crowd. By Stephen Zanichkowsky. Basic Books. 261 pages. $24.95.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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