Daily Archives: November 20, 2011

Nina Hamberg’s memoir ‘Grip’

After being assaulted in her own bedroom by a masked intruder when she was a teen, Hamberg found her relationships with men complicated, to say the least. In this thoughtful memoir, she shares the victories and defeats that shaped those relationships in vivid detail. Introspective without lapsing into solipsism . . .Soundly edited, focused and well-crafted, Hamburg’s memoir is an examination of what it means to be a strong, independent woman, and how we often manage to lead ourselves astray despite the best intentions.—Publishers Weekly

Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions by Nina Hamburg. Route One Press, 276 pages

“Well, thanks for the lift,” I said, stepping into the center of the room. My footsteps echoed in the open space.

 “Sure thing.”

I expected him to turn and leave but he just stood there, slouching against the door jamb. He was even taller than I realized in the bar, maybe six feet two inches. I barely came up to his armpits.

He stood up straighter, letting his fingers run up and down the zipper on his open bomber jacket. He seemed to be considering something. Whatever it was made him smile; at least the corners of his mouth turned up.  He took several long strides toward me, stopping a few feet away.

“Listen. I need some money. I’m running short,” he said in a low, slow voice.

Yellow flicks glowed in the pupils of his eyes. I felt a knot form in my gut.

“Money? I don’t have any money.”

“Come on,” he said, stretching out the words. “I’m sure you can spare a twenty.”

“No. I really can’t.” My voice came out a whine.

He looked down, shifting his weight between his feet. For what seemed like minutes, he didn’t move. Finally he said, “I’ll bet they don’t show you how to deal with this in karate.”

And in one quick motion, he lunged straight at me.

In an instant, I ducked beneath his outstretched arm and darted in, close. My hand shot up, seizing his throat just over his bony Adam’s apple and clamping down on his windpipe.

I love the detail and honesty here, his fingers on the zipper of his jacket, the “yellow flicks” in his eyes, the whine in her voice.

Published in July, this book is an account of a woman’s attempt to grow and to empower herself—while always falling for the “worst guy in the room,” as PW put it. Grip won the Maui Writers Conference Rupert Hughes Award and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association Award for “Best Memoir.”

The author has launched a blog, The Memoir Café, devoted to the art and craft of memoir, including conferences and tips on publishing.


Filed under memoir, NOTED, scene