A startling collection of 13 connected personal narratives, capturing the collision of youthful longing and the hard intransigence of fate and time. Jo Ann Beard's piece ' The fourth state of matter ' was chosen by Bill Buford to appear in the New Yorker's July 1996 special fiction issue. It is a tale based on Beard's own life and is an ...
A startling collection of 13 connected personal narratives, capturing the collision of youthful longing and the hard intransigence of fate and time. Jo Ann Beard's piece ' The fourth state of matter ' was chosen by Bill Buford to appear in the New Yorker's July 1996 special fiction issue. It is a tale based on Beard's own life and is an extroadinary example of the recent trend of non-fiction that reads like fiction. The pieces in this book range from a devastating account of a random shoot out at Beard's workplace to a stunning evocation of a drive through the Arizona desert to reminiscences of the boys of her youth to splitting up with her husband and thedeath of her mother. She writes with a unique perception about both the blandly domestic side of existence and the unexpected events in life over which we have no control. Her subjects are love, loss, abnadonment, th e importance of strong friendships with female friends, her betrayal by men, the landscapes of America, dogs...Jo Ann Beard has a remakable and original voice, and theseshort pieces of personal history are incredibly moving, funny and utterly compelling. They herald the arrival of a brilliant young writer.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-12-08 Moments of profundity abut glimpses of life at its most mundane in this vividly realized collage of episodes from the author's life. The 12 personal narratives collected here, five of which are reprinted from magazines, unfold more thematically than chronologically. "Cousins," for example, explores kinship and female bonding, while the title piece confronts the difficulties and pleasures of women's relationships with men. This scheme allows freelance writer Beard to juxtapose childhood episodes with scenes from her adult life in a manner that illustrates how our past experiences continually inform our interpretations of similar situations later in life. An ongoing concern of this collection is the way people establish connections and how these connections are broken through divorce, death and other forms of separation; themes like the endurance of friendship and kinship are also explored. Beard's self-scrutiny is painstaking and free of self-absorption, and her keen eye for details grounds each episode in its historical moment. (Feb.)
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