Thursday, August 09, 2007

torch

I’m tired and satisfied after a week of literary interlude. I’ve been seeking out writers lately. I miss the ol’ shop talk. You know, the pros and cons of first/third POV; alignment with memory in of itself vs the thing remembered. A robust tug-of-war focused on sentimentality in literary fiction (and you thought that was an oxymoron).

Cheryl Strayed came over tonight. She was our “visiting author” at bookgroup. She had all the gals in the palm of her hand just by being genuine, unapologetic and smart in discussing the background and circumstances of her book,Torch .

The book deals with the hardest of subjects, death and grief, and was fueled by Cheryl’s real life sudden loss of her mother at a crucial time in her life.

Torch, despite the somewhat schmaltzy chicklit book cover, is unflinching and sometimes painful to read. The myriad forms grief takes—the way sadness, rage, numbness and dissociative strategies can blossom into implosion—finds purchase as Strayed rolls along the year following her protagonist’s death from cancer.

The heart of the book is that it’s so personal. So particular. There is not one clichĂ©, not one grab-and-go metaphor—but the universal broken heart threads throughout the story. You must read it.

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