The River’s Memory by Sandra Gail Lambert

This debut novel by a winner of the Saints and Sinners Award marks the advent of a major writing career. Totally original, with transcendent language, it lingers with me months after reading it, the way a river might wind through one’s dreams.

Multiple women across the span of many centuries inhabit or visit the Florida riverbank setting, where each encounters a significant life event. Each woman is struggling  against boundaries that threaten to strangle her own sense of direction: an exuberant child who senses something terribly wrong with her mother; a physically challenged young woman who crashes against imposed gender roles; a potter consumed by her art who nonetheless must navigate tribal politics; an orphan seeking some station she can call her own; these are some of the many souls who inhabit these pages. And they do indeed inhabit this book; the pages are nearly saturated with longing, desire, fear, desperation, and so many other emotions. Some are exuberant, some rebellious; some hide from the world away from their watery retreat, while others meet their quests with buoyant courage.

One story of a dying woman whose lover restrains her own grief to aid her loved one’s passage literally took my breath away with its bone-deep portrait of true love. Because the river itself is so meticulously and passionately portrayed over millenia, this book gives us leave to meditate on how humans evolve in fits and starts and impossible leaps of faith, how we might still, over eons, become somehow worthy of our remarkable planet. A tour de force that richly deserves consideration by every reader who has traipsed through muck and loved every minute of it.

To order: https://twistedroadpublications.com/product/302/

 

Disclaimer: This author and I share a publisher.

The River's Memory by Sandra Gail Lambert

The River’s Memory by Sandra Gail Lambert

Molly Antopol’s The UnAmericans

Please help me inaugurate our new You Tube Channel by clicking here to view my review of Molly’s captivating collection of short stories.

 

http://youtu.be/LTJSIwFeATI

Jaqueline Jones on Race, Alison Bechdel in Music, and a Fascinating Play by Madeleine George on Inventions

http://www.pulitzer.org/finalists/2014

I admit the journalism winners feel old-hat to me, but there’s some intriguing variety in drama, theater, fiction, and poetry.

Much to explore!

Upcoming Women and Books Talk Shoe Episode: An Interview with Molly Anotopol

Title: EPISODE7 – Women & Books Interviews Molly Antopol
Time: 03/26/2014 01:00 PM EDT
Episode Notes: Glenda Bailey-Mershon will be interviewing Molly, Antopol, author of The UnAmericans, a collection of short stories about our uncertain world. Molly teaches creative writing at Stanford. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and received the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 award.

Bailey Prize (Orange Prize) Longlist 2014

The Bailey Prize (formerly the Orange Prize) longlist is out. Lots to catch up on. I love this prize list for its tips on international authors whom we may not know–yet. I have a lot to catch up on from this list. You?

LONGLIST 2014

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah

Margaret Atwood – MaddAddam

Suzanne Berne – The Dogs of Littlefield

Fatima Bhutto – The Shadow of the Crescent Moon

Claire Cameron – The Bear

Lea Carpenter – Eleven Days

M.J. Carter – The Strangler Vine

Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries

Deborah Kay Davies – Reasons She Goes to the Woods

Elizabeth Gilbert – The Signature of All Things

Hannah Kent – Burial Rites

Rachel Kushner – The Flamethrowers

Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland

Audrey Magee – The Undertaking

Eimear McBride – A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing

Charlotte Mendelson – Almost English

Anna Quindlen – Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Elizabeth Strout – The Burgess Boys

Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch

Evie Wyld – All The Birds, Singing

 

For more on this prize, see this link: http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/2014-prize/longlist-2014

Too few women authors? Not by a long shot.

Love this quote from Pamela Paul, the newish editor of the New York Times Book Review:

“I don’t know the numbers in terms of what’s being published, how many books are by women and how many books are by men,” says Pamela Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review. The Times showed improvement in this year’s VIDA count: In 2013, the number of male and female book reviewers was almost equal, and they reviewed 332 books written by women and 482 by men. Paul took over as editor during that time, and she says diversifying the book review section was a priority for her.

“It is not hard work at all. That’s the big secret — it’s not hard,” Paul says. “There are so many good books out there by women, and there are so many incredibly good book critics out there who are women. So I actually have to say that I didn’t find it to be an incredible strain. I don’t think any of our editors at the Book Review felt that we were unduly burdened.”

See who’s living up to this quote here: 

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/26/282600453/when-it-comes-to-womens-writing-how-do-publications-stack-up

I really appreciated this poem this morning. I like its subtle structure juxtaposed against its merciless imagery and succinct conclusion. 

 

http://www.ucityreview.com/7_Kanev_Peycho.html

 

Peycho Kanav, Psalm

My Favorite Books of 2013

For the first time, my year-end list includes no poetry. That isn’t because there was no decent poetry published this year, but because I’ve been immersed this year in readying for publication my own novel (due out in 2014; more later) to read anything other than fiction. Poetry makes me look so deeply into the world that I fail sometimes to make bridges to other, related material. That’s a good thing. Poetry should be about the intensity and depth of experiences. And perhaps it is different for others; in fact, I think that’s just my tendency to tunnel myself into a book. Fiction by its length and such factors as plots requires us usually to look at how things are connected. This year, I needed to make those connections to be sure I could offer readers the most of which I was capable.

That said, there was some great fiction this year. Much of it, like Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch, has been reviewed elsewhere. Here, I want to focus on some gems that you might have missed in all the big-box fanfare. Not that the books below haven’t been successful. Some have been wonderfully reviewed elsewhere (Slouka’s Brewster and Yoon’s Snow Hunters, for example), while others are on their way to being classics (Marafioti’s American Gypsy joins a handful of other Romani memoirs) and some, like Lee’s Bobcat and Other Stories and The Day the Crayons Quit, are in a genre (short stories and children’s) that isn’t on everyone’s reading list. So I’d like to offer a trumpet fanfare for

Brewster_ARC_11_28.indd snowhunters Americangypsy crayonsquit bobcatlee

Karen Russell Wins MacArthur Genius Grant

Novelist and short story writer Karen Russell has won a $625,000 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. We first encountered her in Swamplandia. She followed with St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and then the story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Not bad for a woman who lives from Tupperware tubs. Read about he recent grants here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/arts/macarthur-genius-award-winners-named.html. And a great interview with Ms. Russell here.

Bobcat and Other Stories

Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat and Other Stories from Algonquin Books: Wow. If you’ve been looking for a book about our insecure world that doesn’t blow something up on every page, this is it. Fabulous writing. Review coming up. 

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