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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations…

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

by Terry Tempest Williams

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Beautiful and moving. I found myself rereading sections so that I could chew on them later. ( )
  staciec | Feb 19, 2014 |
When Women Were Birds, is a slim lyrical meditation, about writing, about loss of a mother, about change in mid-life. The author, an ex-Morman, deals with the death of her mother, by focusing on what she has left behind -- blank journals, and what this means in a philosophical sense. Why hasn't her mother filled these journals -- a mandate for every Morman woman-- what did this mean to her, and know what does it mean for them to be left to her daughter, a writer. I read this book on a train trip, and it was the perfect book to go in and out of as the train lurched through the ice and snow from DC to New York. It was probably the only way I could have read a mournful book like this ... Caroline

PS look for BEFORE MY EYES...2.11.14 ( )
  cabockwrites | Jan 29, 2014 |
Whatever, just shatters your concept of prose/poetry/memoir into a thousand tiny pieces. NBD. ( )
  deadwhiteguys | Aug 6, 2013 |
I need to try this again. Read the first few pages (WHOA) but had too many things going at the same time.
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
Intriguing premise, one could decide this book is brilliant and just over one's head or one could decide this book is a bit pompous and poetically overwritten. Guess which one I chose? There are some beautiful phrases in this book, but the flowery prose only served to keep this reader at a distance. There are some genuine feelings behind this excessive language usage, but one has to work too hard to find it. I may be being totally unfair since I have never read this author before, but this is how it seemed to me. I am rating this a three because there is some interesting information to be found and in places there are some wonderful tidbits. ARC from publisher. ( )
  Beamis12 | Mar 18, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374288976, Hardcover)

The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebrates

Terry Tempest Williams’s mother told her: “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.”

Readers of Williams’s iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.  

“They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books . . . I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty . . . Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.” What did Williams’s mother mean by that? In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals. When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question “What does it mean to have a voice?”


Note: blank pages are intentional.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:16 -0400)

In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams (beloved author of "Refuge") creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals .. and what it means to have a voice beyond a selfless existence informed by children and a husband.… (more)

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