Voyager is my favorite Star Trek series so I was interested to read this book and learn more about Kate Mulgrew’s life. She is a very lyrical writer with a great eye for detail — having read other celebrity memoirs before, you can tell when one is ghostwritten and this one read as if it was purely her own effort. She has a strong voice and is able to really capture a scene and the elements that make it powerful. Her writing elevates this beyond a normal celebrity type memoir into the more literary memoir genre, and I was impressed by it.
Born With Teeth covers Mulgrew’s life and career, which includes a tumultuous childhood, having to give her daughter up for adoption, her rocky romantic life, and her intense love for acting and deep need to work creatively. Her childhood was sad to read about; between her mother’s neglect, blaming herself for her baby sister’s death at a young age, her father’s distance from the family and affair that she witnessed, and her other sister dying of cancer, it seemed like it was a non-stop experience of trauma for her. She gets across her need to escape and leave the turmoil of home very well, but she is also able to convey the complex feelings she has about leaving her dying sister. The section where she describes her last visit with Tessie is truly heartbreaking. Her descriptions of acting, which is why I’d picked the book up, are actually the more underdeveloped parts of the book, although her overwhelming focus on her craft is apparent throughout. My only real criticism is that she often felt somewhat removed from the narrative emotionally, but I think that was attributable to her upbringing and the normal psychological reaction to the sheer amount of terrible things that happened to her. I’d recommend this for people who like literary memoir, people who are interested in Kate Mulgrew, or people who are interested in grim mid-century upbringings and their resultant effects.
Warnings for: child death, abuse, adoption trauma, dementia, adultery.