From the Oxford American Magazine Southern Literature Edition…
“This is the most detailed and utterly plausible account I’ve ever read of what it feels like to be an abused child, and it is told with cinematic presence and verisimilitude. The anger, the love, the evasiveness and jealousy and confusion, the need to dissociate oneself from one’s own actions and reactions–all are presented in a harrowing narrative, which is as tragic as a Greek drama and as engrossing as a Victorian novel. The unexpected element in this book-which falls on the reader like manna–is its nourishing, exquisite lyricism.” Edmund White (Book Jacket)
“Walter de Milly has written a sensitive and compelling account of father-son incest. In spite of the suffering portrayed, the account also gives testimony to the strength of family bonds, and to the courage and resilience of the human spirit” Fred Berlin, M.D. Director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma
“Beautiful prose…I heard this writer read when he was a panelist at the Key West Literary seminar, and was struck by the lyricism of his work. I bought the memoir immediately after, and have to add to the chorus of praise: This is a powerful and beautifully written book. Kathy Rich (Amazon Reviews)
“With so many books written by and for professionals dealing with sexual abuse, why should the busy clinician spend a couple of hours reading “In My Father’s Arms? As a clinician working with both abusers and male survivors, I believe this book helps the reader better understand the victim’s coping strategies (often dysfunctional in the long run), the phenomenon of splitting at different ages, effects on sexuality, and how victims unwittingly contribute to the distorted thinking of the abuser…De Milly’s first hand account [is] written in a flowing prose closer to Nabokov than the other books subjectively penned in pain by survivors, or more objectively written by clinicians who must work with them” Ken Singer, LSCW Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers newsletter, The Forum
“In My Father’s Arms is an astonishing book–concise, lyrical, unflinching, honest. It allows the reader to gaze upon things that in less accomplished prose would be unbearable.” Chauncey Mabe South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 23, 2000Amazon Reviews:
A Brilliantly Crafted Memoir, an Unforgettable Story… Reviewer: A reader from Cape Town, South Africa Walter de Milly’s story isn’t necessarily more horrific than other survivors of incest. But the depth of his understanding of what he went through and his prodigious talents as a writer combine to make me feel that this slender volume may simply be the ultimate incest survivor story, that it couldn’t possible get any better than this.With his measured, nearly dreamlike voice, deMilly takes us back to the 60’s South and to the family bomb shelter where the sexual abuse began in earnest, allowing the reader inside the mind and soul of a young boy who is now locked in anguished sexual conflict with his handsome and smiling father. From this chilling opening, the writer unfolds his story of pain and gut determination to survive, creating unforgettable portraits of the people and events around him.One comes away from ‘In my Father’s Arms’ with the feeling of having just encountered an instant classic.”
Father-Son Incest, October 28, 2002 Reviewer: Nissa (see more about me) from California Walter de Milly gives a voice to male survivors of incest. His story is compelling and highly informative of the experience of father-son incest. He has shown great courage.His descriptions vividly illustrate the experience of dissociation and splitting. This book has given me the clearest understanding of multiple personality disorder. Through memories he explains the psyche of his father (which is very disturbing), and how his father maintained control over him and secrecy over the incest. We also learn about the culture he grew up in through the reactions to his homosexuality, the keeping of secrets for the purpose of upholding social images, and the belief that incest is a fantasy and not a reality.The reaction of his parents and psychiatrist to his homosexuality and emerging incest memories is heart breaking. He deserved so much more than how he was treated and misunderstood. The difficulties of dealing with incest compounded by the discovery of his homosexuality (being different, having crushes in high school), and then to be misunderstood and put through therapies to make him heterosexual, while his father (a pedophile) was praised as a great man.Throughout the entire book we catch glimmers of hope, and ultimately he is able to end the secrecy and to triumph. He reclaims himself from the lies and abuse. I even began to feel compassion towards his father. He was a sick man, and he was not able to fully face the truth of what he had done before his death (though he never denied that he abused his son or the other boys). The treatment he received disturbed me. I wish there had been a way for everyone in the family to receive better psychotherapy.Walter de Milly writes beautifully. I loved reading about his connections to other people, and especially his friendship with Wallace.
Validating and Real Reviewer: bwl200 from Chicago, IL United States Currently trying to understand my own past, De Milly’s story is told with such clarity and care, that after I put it down (i read it in one sitting) I felt comforted. De Milly confronts something most of us try to keep quiet, and he does so with grace and compassion. The book, undoubtedly a reflection of the man, is painfully sincere. Thank you Walter De Milly for opening the door for so many of us.
Extraordinary book on many levels Reviewer: ivan1138 from Tallahassee, FL USA As you can well imagine, this material is rather hard to take. Mercifully the book isn’t too long, and by that comment I simply mean that the author is never verbose. He doesn’t allow his story to become maudlin. What struck me most was how sympathic the author is with his father. He is able to convey a myriad of conflicting emotions – confusion, anger, love – with a clear and candid style. What his father did to Walter and all those other boys was horrendous and, some would say, unforgivable. What this book did for me was to communicate the ambiguities in his father’s character. This was not just a tragedy for Walter, but for his father as well. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not condoning his father’s actions. No, I’m just saying that one can understand and feel a certain pity for someone obviously afflicted by demons too powerful to fight or conquer. This is a very special book, both sad and optimistic, objective and pointedly direct.
Profound Understanding Reviewer: Jacob Victory from Nutley, NJ USA Taking a powerfully disturbing story and writing about it in a simple, almost poetic, manner is truly profound. Walter De Milly’s personal story about child abuse, his relationship with his father, and his own way of dealing with it and understanding it, is a great accomplishment in the art of storytelling. The book deals with the loss of innocence, disturbing childhood memories, and the interaction between Walter and his father, both as a child and adult. One sentence in the book lends dramatic insight into the feelings of the author throughout his ordeal and the aftermath: “The eyes scream what the lips dare not whisper.” One can only imagine how a boy’s silence could be ignored when all one had to do was look into his eyes. It is a story well told and strongly felt by any reader.
In My Father’s Arms Reviewer: Merle Yost from Oakland, CA As a psychotherapist that specializes in treating men with a history of sexual abuse and having been an incest victim my self, I have read a great deal of the literature and books on the subject. This is one of the best at really conveying the pain and impact upon a developing mind and body. A fast but powerful read that anyone who really wants to understand or to see that he was not the only one. I will recommend it highly in all of my workshops on abuse and to my clients that are ready to face their pain. I am grateful that Walter shared his pain and most of all his healing. It will help many.
Beautiful prose Reviewer: kathyrich from New York City I heard this writer read when he was a panelist at the Key West Literarty seminar, and was struck by the lyricism of his work. I bought the memoir immediately after, and have to add to the chorus of praise: This is a powerful and beautifully written book.
An Enlightening Memoir Reviewer: James Schiavone, Ed.D. from West Palm Berach, Florida While novels reflect the human condition and provide the reader with vicarious experiences, biography brings life itself to the printed page. Autobiography and memoirs are especially intriguing, despite the fact that the author only reveals those aspects of his life that he chooses to share with others. Autobiography and memoirs most often provide a catharsis for the author. The writer relives his experiences by sharing them with his readers. The memoirist enhances the understanding of human psychology through sharing experiences with others, while he views himself simultaneously. deMilly’s work, which would not have been published a few decades ago, deals candidly with the subjects of incest and pedophilia. It is no wonder that the author experiences multiple personality syndrome at the hands of a father whose pedophilia extends to his own son. In graphic detail, deMilly spells out the ordeal of a child who knows intrinsically that something terribly wrong is happening – yet he cannot tell it to anyone. With the onset of adolescence, deMilly’s problems are compounded by his own emerging sexual preference – which he cannot fathom. Could it be that his homosexuality is attributable to the sexual abuse from his parent? Psychotherapy does not provide satisfactory answers or solutions. deMilly has written a brave memoir, a testament to the strength of the human spirit to survive successfully in society. His work is a positive addition to the expanding discipline of gay and lesbian studies.
Extraordinarily powerful book! Reviewer: Byron L.Spice, Jr. from Key West, Florida This book tells my story better than I could have! This is very important information that needs to be told and Walter has done a powerful and courageous job of doing it. A MUST READ!Thank you, Walter
touching Reviewer: Evan Haverford from Illinois A clear, wonderous gem. Told with special tenderness and honesty. The best book of this kind I’ve read. Worth more and more.
My brother’s story grabs your soul. Reviewer: “Caroline” de Milly I am “Caroline”. I have just finished reading my brother’s book. His sensitivity and pain grab your soul. At times I felt I was floating above, reading about someone else, not my brother, not my family. Walt’s journey, as told in the book, has been a long and hard one. I am so proud of his courage, He is a gentle, sincere, witty, and intelligent man. Despite his abuse, all the little Walts (some of whom I knew) and Walt have never faltered in character. That is the miracle in all this. No one who reads this book will be untouched. I hope that those readers who have been abused will find this book part of their healing. For those who have not, I hope it will give a clearer understanding of what it feel like to be abused and the lasting effects of it. Knowledge is a powerful tool in any fight. It is my hope that this knowledge will bring help to those who need it, whether it is in the form of laws, therapy, or simple a helping freind.