A masterful memoir of a young boy's passage from childhood to adulthood in a family of privilege torn by dark secrets: alcoholism, mental illness, dysfunction. As a complicated coming of age story, Sweet Dreams charts the journey of DeWitt Henry, well-known author, editor, publisher and educator, in his earliest struggles to find and achieve his own creative destiny. It is what Richard Hoffman calls "...a remarkable feat of memory delivered in extraordinary prose."
DeWitt Henry is the author of THE MARRIAGE OF ANNA MAYE POTTS (winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel), and a mid-life memoir-in-essays, SAFE SUICIDE: NARRATIVES, ESSAYS, AND MEDITATIONS. Both are sequels to his latest memoir, SWEET DREAMS: A FAMILY HISTORY. He is a Professor at Emerson College and the founding editor of PLOUGHSHARES literary magazine. For details see www.dewitthenry.com .
The "sweet dreams" of the title refers to my family's multi-generational dream of establishing a brand name chocolate factory, and of course the privileged social standing that went with it on Philadephia's Main Line. My father subverted that dream with an alcoholic breakdown during World War II, and with his and my mother's blessing, my older brothers, sister, and me were encouraged to strike out on our own, which we did. I close this section: "Perhaps I stopped eating sweets because of cavities; perhaps trying to control weight...Perhaps because of Dad, his remoteness, his weight problem and diabetes and the revelations about his years of severe alcoholism...As for running the factory, as my brothers and sisters had done, I soon chose other dreams.
Sweet Dreams: A Family History
I stopped craving sweets in my teens, and haven’t craved them since. My daughter at age eight was incredulous to hear such a thing, and I told her that I must have reached a point of overdose. There I was, youngest of four children in a family that owned a candy factory, no less. As I grew up, my friends all wanted to know: what was it like to own a whole candy factory?