The Dream Chamber is a full-length work of memoir shaped as a novel. The story is told from the perspective and in the voice of the child – me – whose life it narrates.
My family emigrated from a shtetl in Ukraine to the United States at the turn of the century. The Dream Chamber takes place in the State of Maine from 1945-1955. The narrator describes the first ten years of his life, from the perspectives and in the voice of his evolving consciousness.
This story is profoundly personal. Yet it captures and conveys the manner in which many children come to consciousness, accomplish identity, enter a family, and in time depart to construct an adulthood of their own.
The story’s soul concerns forgiveness: how one child and potentially all children can exert the power of love to move from suffering, mystification, error, and anger to understanding, forgiveness, peace,and productivity.
The Dream Chamber is about hope and healing.
I authored The Dream Chamber, but throughout the years I worked on its many drafts I felt as though I received it – received it from what I know as The Divine.
Writing this radically unusual book has helped me understand, embrace, and forgive the struggles and suffering I experienced during my childhood. In particular it helped me comprehend and rescue the learning in my sustained effort to create my intellect, spirit life, and moral imagination.
The Dream Chamber is a work of autobiography, but I always knew as I was writing it that it would help others with their life journeys. The spirits (I know them as Loas) who shepherded me told me this. They said this is why I must write and publish my otherwise intensely private, extraordinarily intimate narrative.
Many readers tell me The Dream Chamber recounts the story of their life, not mine. They say the book makes a magical impact on their relation with their own childhood and filial consciousness. They say the work transforms their crippling confusion, grief, and rage into clarity and compassion, and grants them a pathway to release and renewal.
Here are several samples of the responses readers have sent to me:
I hold your book and feel that it is a bit of sacred writing. It is exceptional.
Your opening pledge is one of the most poignant pieces on childhood I have ever read.
I stayed up to read as much as possible – a second reading only deepened the magic. Peter, your work is profound, living, and as all true narrative does, it teaches what is beautiful, profane, sacred, eternal.
I am moved to literal tears. Blessings on your “invulnerable and sacred soul.”
I try to read your book slowly but I can’t. I’m reading it too quickly. And I can’t put it down. Your book is a wonder.
You have achieved your goal, but the pain is unavoidable. I found myself laughing loudly and then after a few more sentences, crying for you and your childhood self. You have really captured the innocence of the boy narrator.
I cried and cried after reading it for the first time. Your story helped me to remove the lid I had covered on my past. I was able to let it go. I don’t love my mother but I’ve forgiven her.
The passages of you protecting your brother and sister will always tear my heart out, but strangely, also make me smile to think of you, so young yet so adamant to keep them safe.