Safe Suicide

Against a background of suburban Philadelphia in the 1950s, and the family secret of his father’s alcoholism, Henry comes of age as the youngest of four children. He rejects his father’s course in managing the family chocolate factory, and goes on to college, becoming a writer and teacher. When Henry marries, and becomes a father himself, he is impacted by the social revolutions of the 1970s, and struggles to avoid his father’s flaws. He leads a literary life in Boston, founds the literary magazine Ploughshares, and befriends novelist Richard Yates. During the 1980s, Henry suffers the deaths of his parents, infertility, rejections of his work, and setbacks in his teaching career. In the 1990s, while his daughter and adopted son are swept up into trials of adolescence and young adulthood, and as his wife grieves the deaths of friends and family, Henry confronts a spiritual abyss similar to his father’s, and learns to surrender to life, to love, to aging and mortality.


By turns lyrical, quirky, confessional, and experimental in form, Henry’s essays build into an affirming and generous vision. While addiction, the uses of imagination, a passion for literature, and issues of heart and soul are key motifs, a bungee jump becomes Henry’s central metaphor: “isn’t this life? isn’t this art? We live and trust in our safe suicides.”


DeWitt Henry ( Author Website )

Publication Date: January 1, 2008

Genre/Imprint: Non-Fiction, Red Hen Press

$23 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-100-8

Reviews

Coming Home to Roost

In a previous post called Blogging and the Memoir Community I promised to review DeWitt Henry’s memoir called Safe Suicide because he was the first published author who found me […]

Weights and Measures by Jack Smith

AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW, Vol. 30, No. 4, May/June 2009"Author of the prize-winning novel The Marriage of Anna Maye Potts (2001), editor of several literary anthologies and numerous essays and stories […]

DeWitt Henry

DeWitt Henry, mon sembable, mon frere, was two years behind me at Amherst, but way ahead of me in life. While the rest of us were yearning for graduate school, […]

Confessions of an editor

Review by Nina MacLaughlin in The Boston Phoenix, June 21, 2008 In Safe Suicide, an assemblage of revealing, interrelated essays, DeWitt Henry ” Emerson professor, writer, and founding editor and […]

Safe Suicide: review by Rand Richards Cooper

Safe Suicide reviewed by Rand Richards Cooper in AMHERST MAGAZINE, fall 2008In Safe Suicide, the Boston-based novelist, professor and editor DeWitt Henry has collected his autobiographical essays first published in […]