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Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna…
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Still Life with Bread Crumbs

by Anna Quindlen

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found this book to be very depressing. I think the author is a good writer, and I could relate to the main character’s fears and disappointments. However, the message seemed to be that you can only be happy if you have a good-sized bank account, lucrative career, and domestic bliss/romance. Until then, you’re stuck in a life of endless gloom with bad memories and little hope for the future. ( )
  itbgc | Apr 11, 2014 |
Almost poetic at times, Quindlen weaves a story of famous Rebecca Winter who sublets her Manhattan apartment and moves to a cabin just outside a small town. What was to be a short term lease turns out to be a new lease, not only on her career but on her social and love life as well. As always the reader Quindlen's writing goes right to the reader's heart. ( )
  brangwinn | Apr 6, 2014 |
i enjoyed this novel - it was 'nice'. it was all a bit too tidy for me, and there was a bit too much reliance on convenience to move the plot forward. but quindlen's writing style is very good, and she created some interesting characters. as with the last book i read ([book:Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab|18248440]), this novel didn't go as emotionally deep as it could have. it all felt a bit too surface-y, or as though there was a bit of a disconnect with the narrator. and given the angst going on...i was not as sucked in by it all as i wanted to be. but - it's still a good read. i suspect many people will love it a lot. ( )
  DawsonOakes | Mar 27, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My experience with Anna Quindlen's fiction has been hit or miss. I loved the dramatic tension of One True Thing, Every Last One, and Black and Blue. However, I've found her other novels to be so pedestrian, and even trite, that I can't even finish them. I did finish this one, but it didn't engage me. Quite a disappointment, although well written, as are all of her books, fiction and nonfiction. ( )
  TheJeanette | Mar 21, 2014 |
Sixty year old Rebecca Winter’s Warholian fifteen minutes of fame have elapsed and she is now struggling financially to keep her head above the proverbial water-line. With payments being made for maintenance of the New York flat, nursing home charges where her dementia suffering mother resides and rent for her father’s flat, she decides to lease her high rent New York apartment and rent a ramshackle cottage in an unspecified rural community in the New York State.
Rebecca Winter is a photographer who became well known for a series of photographs entitled The Kitchen Counter series, one of those being known as Still Life with Breadcrumbs. As Rebecca tries to engage with her new surroundings more often than not through hikes in the nearby woodland, she encounters small white crosses with various pieces of memorabilia next to them. As she begins to hunt the woodland for more of these crosses and photograph what she finds she meets Jim Bates sitting on a platform built into the branches of a tree, watching birds of prey and holding what looks like a gun.
This is not a book about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is not a book about a woman going through a mid-life crisis. It would be very easy and very lazy to read the inside book jacket and come to either of the above conclusions but that would be doing a huge disservice to the author and this book. If the reader was to simply skim read their way through this book, that reader, though enjoying the book, would be missing the myriad of levels and nuances that permeate the book.
Still Life with Breadcrumbs is as elegant and intimate as an Annie Leibovitz photograph but also has the truthfulness of a Diane Arbus.

“ ...”You’re Lucky”, Rebecca had been suspicious of the sentiment, and the intervening years had proved her correct. You’re so lucky, to the couple at an anniversary party who, in private, scarcely spoke. You’re so lucky, to the young mother who heard a stirring and cry at night from the crib and swore she would lose her mind. Lucky from the outside was an illusion.”

(Page 89)

Rebecca Winter attempts to make sense of the world, to define her world, through the lens of her camera. The camera acts as a buffer to the real world beyond her aperture. When photographing the white crosses with their accompanying pieces of memorabilia, trophy, plaster cast of a handprint etc she thinks only in terms of composition, framing, and light. She doesn’t ask why the crosses and memorabilia are there or what they represent. And this thinking occasionally bleeds into her other parts of her life as well and in so doing she misses out on what life has to offer.
Anna Quindlen has an unerring ability to flesh out her characters without appearing to write very much about them. Her style of writing appears deceptively easy and with the least amount of effort. However, as one reads the words the reader finds themselves breathing the same air as the characters; one feels the characters becoming part of one’s DNA.
I will finish the review with a wonderful passage on page 104 that will help display Anna Quindlen’s wonderful prose.

“There are two kinds of men: men who want a wife who is predictable, and men who want a wife who is exotic. For some reason, Peter had thought she was the latter. But even if that had been the case, the problem inherent remains the same – once she becomes a wife, the exotic becomes familiar, and thus predictable, and thus not what was wanted at all. Those few women who stayed exotic usually were considered, after a few years, to be crazy.”

(Page 104)

Number of Pages – 252
Sex Scenes – None
Profanity – None
Genre - Fiction
  Kitscot | Mar 18, 2014 |
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Epigraph
And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?  I did.  And what did you want?  To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth. --Raymond Carver
Dedication
For all the teachers who helped make my work possible-- and for my favorite teacher, Theresa Quindlen.
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A few minutes after two in the morning Rebecca Winter woke to the sound of a gunshot and sat up in bed.
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Moving to a small country cabin, a once world-famous photographer bonds with a local man and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career, and self-understanding.

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