Under a Dark Eye: A Family Story is a memoir that grew out of an obsession. My father’s lack of empathy and even cruelty shadowed my life: how did he become that man? With virtually no history passed on to me, I set out to discover, reconstruct and imagine his past. I found myself in the 1890’s immigration to America, on Wall Street in the 20’s and 30’s, witnessing unemployment in the Depression, off to Africa, Europe and Asia in World War II, finally watching a desperate entrepreneur start out in the booming 50’s. I discover a handsome, very intelligent young man chewed in the jaws of unemployment and by his own father’s withering distain, and caught in the deadly machinery of war: the shell of a man who emerged in 1945 was psychically damaged and incapable of change. The second half of the memoir draws a portrait of my mother, the first in her first family to go to college, who became a psychiatrist. I render their unlikely match and our strange family life on the grounds of the State Hospital in Concord, New Hampshire.
"Restrained, yet full of feeling; stunned by the mystery of family love,
yet bravely attuned to its tragic ambiguity, Sharon Dunn's account (both narrative and lyric) of her disappointed father and her determined mother shows her to be as fine a daughter as she is a poet."
-- James Carroll, author of An American Requiem