Winner of the PEN/Voelcker career achievement award in poetry
Misgivings is C. K. William's searing recollection of his family's extreme dynamics and of his parents' deaths after years of struggle, bitterness, inner conflict, and, finally, love. Like Kafka's self-revealing Letter to His Father, Misgivings is a full of doubt, both philosophical and personal, but as a work of art it is sure and true.
Williams's father was an "ordinary businessman"--angry, demanding, addicted to the tension he created with the people he loved; a man who could recite the Greek myths to his son yet vowed never to apologize to anybody. Wiiiams's mother was a housewife, a woman with a great capacity for pleasure, who was stoical about the family's dire early poverty yet remained affected by it even when they became well-off. Together, these two formed what Williams calls the "conspiracy that made me who I am." His account of their life together and of their deaths--his father's in a final abandonment of the will to live, his mother's with calm resignation--is a literary form of the reconciliation the family achieved at the end of his parents' lives, composed as a series of short takes, a double helix of experience and recollection.