Bodies Adjacent: Ardyth's Memoir & Egon's Journal
Part memoir, part confession, part journal, Bodies Adjacent is the story of two lives told by each one about the other. The novelist Ardyth Kennelly and her physician husband, the Jewish Viennese émigré Egon V. Ullman, met in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1930s and soon began an unlikely love affair, continuing it for nearly three decades in Portland—throughout the disruptions of the Depression, the war, and finally sudden fame, as well as their own personal demons.
Writing thirty years after Egon’s untimely death in 1962, Ardyth looks back with a deeper understanding of their lives than she had possessed during her self-conscious younger years. She tells us something of her early life and of Egon’s history; laments her ignorance of the love he must have felt for his home country; shares her impressions of the Jewish refugees and émigrés he knew in Portland; remembers his loving and indulgent care for her; confesses her sorrow and regret for how she treated him in his illness and death; and spins some fanciful stories to illustrate how their life together began and ended.
In the middle of her memoir, Ardyth places the journal that Egon kept—at her suggestion—during the years when she was writing her first five novels (1947–56). His fascination with her talent, intellect, and charm never wavered through all their personal troubles. Their shared love of books and the desire to write brought them together and remained a major focus of their life in marriage.
Bodies Adjacent is a captivating and singular love story—painfully honest, yet utterly enchanting and sweet.