Cravings: A Sensual Memoir

“Storytelling, like arguing with G-d, is a big part of Jewish tradition. I thought my parents would be pleased that I want to keep the family stories alive.” In Cravings Jyl Lynn Felman, acclaimed writer and performance artist, offers us her family stories. But they’re not the stories you might expect from a midwestern Jewish family. Felman’s voice — her sharp humor and striking boldness — is unlike any you’ve heard before.

The youngest of three sisters in a Jewish American family in Dayton, Ohio, Jyl Lynn Felman understood early in life how to get what she needed in a family that couldn’t speak about feelings. The Felman sisters expressed their longings in dramatic ways: one sister became bulimic, and Jyl learns at age fourteen that hyperventilating would award her a special relationship with her mother.

As a child Jyl was obsessed with the “F” word. As an adult she shoplifted: Throwing clothes off the rack onto her wheelchair-bound mother’s lap, she ran out of a department store, shouting, “Out of the way, my mother’s going to be sick!”

Later she writes about how her mother’s enforced silence from Parkinson’s disease triggered her own unspoken needs. “Now it’s me who’s on fire from the inside out. Trapped underneath the burning flame of mother-loss… We adore our brand-new, stolen clothes. We can never get enough.”

In this memoir filled with extraordinarily vivid images of her obsessive love for her mother, Felman writes of her own cravings in the sensual experience of her childhood — the taste of her mother’s cooking, the feel of her touch. As an adult, she craves the delicious and forbidden shrimp cooked by her lesbian lover.

Through her family stories Felman offers a fearless and original tale of the universal desire for love and connection.

“The loss of a mother is one of the most profound tragedies a
daughter will face. Jyl Lynn Felman explores this territory with
remarkable bravery. A stunning memoir… Cravings is beautifully
written and painfully honest. After turning the final page, I
was hungry for more.” — Hope Edelman