Cover of "The Middle Place"

Cover of The Middle Place

By Mandy Webster

The Middle Place. By Kelly Corrigan. New York. Hyperion, 2008.

O, The Oprah Magazine, calls Kelly Corrigan’s memoir, The Middle Place, “Funny and irresistibly exuberant.” Personally, I had some difficulty discovering exactly what it was that Oprah (or her current staff of book reviewers) found so amusing. The only exuberance came in the form of Corrigan’s salesman-for-life father, who she kept on a pedestal throughout the entire book.

One review I read on The Middle Place said, “Just past the second half of the book, the writer’s tone and the content becomes whiny, self indulgent, leaving the author sounding like a spoiled child who needs to grow up.” I was unable to find humor in this work, given the self-centered, overbearing nature of the main character. There were a few promising passages early on, but Corrigan’s obnoxious, “Pay attention to me!” attitude began to grate just a few chapters in.

At one point, Corrigan makes her husband Edward promise not to call his parents on the weekends when she is around. Edward finally agrees to only call his family from his car on the way home from work so his closeness with them does not interfere with him making his over-indulged wife and their two children the sole focus of his attentions. Yet, Corrigan’s father, not her husband, is the first person she calls after completing her final round of radiation. Given Corrigan’s outrageous, overbearing demands, I found it difficult to feel at all inspired by her struggles. Even when I wanted to feel for the author in her fight with breast cancer, I just couldn’t get past her self-centered feelings of entitlement.

I think what irritated me most was Corrigan’s relationship with her mother, the one parent in her life who has some amount of common sense. The elder Mrs. Corrigan is the sane voice of reason in the family, and seemingly the one and only person who does not spoil little Kelly. Corrigan can’t stand that her mother doesn’t dote on her like Greenie always has. Yet, imagine how the younger Ms. Corrigan might have turned out had her mother spoiled her like her father did?

For me, there was no real conclusion or resolution to this memoir. I was almost disappointed when Greenie didn’t pass away in the end, if for no other reason to see Corrigan grow up and finally begin her exodus from that ‘middle place’ between being the center of both her parents’ attention and the center of her children’s attention. I finished up this memoir and put the book away feeling as though there was no real ending. Kelly Corrigan is just as spoiled and self-indulgent on the final pages of The Middle Place as she was on page one.

Amanda L. Webster

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