alfred and emily


Doris Lessing has never been one to shy from bold moves. She married early to escape her overbearing mother, then left her husband and two children, wedding a German Communist classed as an enemy alien during World War II. Her most famous novel, “The Golden Notebook” (1962), was considered boldly feminist and structurally daring. In the 1980s, Lessing upset many of her readers by turning to science fiction. During the same period, she made headlines by submitting a novel to her longtime British publisher, Jonathan Cape, under a pseudonym — demonstrating, with its rejection, how hard it is for unknown writers to break into print. Last year, when told she’d won the Nobel Prize for literature, she seemed more exasperated than exhilarated by the attention. “Oh, Christ! . . . It’s a royal flush,” she said.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, nearing the end of her ninth decade, in what she declares is her last book, Lessing has pushed the boundaries of the memoir form. She does this by splitting “Alfred & Emily” between fiction and personal reminiscence, in order to attack from multiple angles material she’s still struggling to understand.

more from the LA Times here.