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Doris Grumbach's chilling look at the ways childhood experiences create transformative echoes that last throughout adulthood "I want to lead you all into the ocean to see if you will drown." During the summer of 1929 four children come together and change the course of their lives forever. Caleb and Kate Flowers live an isolated existence with their mother until Lionel Schwartz and Roslyn Hellman come to Far Rockaway for the summer. Roslyn, quickly stepping in as ringleader, dominates the summer's activities, and what appear to be innocent childhood games are actually very real confrontations with the group's most closely held secrets. As the summer progresses, Caleb and Kate's relationship grows from the affectionate love of siblings to something less innocent. The ensuing years will bring profound realizations and undeniable passions for all four as they move through adolescence and grow up. Doris Grumbach's acutely intimate, deeply truthful, and often tragic tale of self-discovery never wavers.
In her later years, a woman reflects on her marriage, her stifled passions, and her life At age ninety, Caroline Maclaren, widow of the prominent composer Robert Maclaren, finally decides to tell her own story. "Perhaps the time was not right to do it before," she remarks. But now she takes pen to paper, reliving her sheltered girlhood, her chilly marriage to a brilliant man, and--perhaps above all--the melancholy solitude in which she has lived nearly all her life. It was only when her husband fell ill that Caroline found fulfilling companionship with Anna, Robert's caretaker. This masterful tale of loneliness and of passion late in life is widely considered to be Grumbach's finest work. Bittersweet, touching, and profoundly resonant, Chamber Music is captivating.
A New York Times Notable Book: One woman's search for the value of a long life With the advent of her seventieth birthday, many changes have beset Doris Grumbach: the rapidly accelerating speed of the world around her, the premature deaths of her younger friends, her own increasing infirmities, and her move from cosmopolitan Washington, DC, to the calm of the Maine coast. Coming into the End Zone is an account of everything Grumbach observes over the course of a year. Astute observations and vivid memories of quotidian events pepper her story, which surprises even her with its fullness and vigor. Coming into the End Zone captures the days of a woman entering a new stage of life with humanity and abiding hope.
A New York Times Notable Book: A moving glimpse of a life shrewdly examinedExtra Innings follows a year in the life of Doris Grumbach, beginning with the release of her previous memoir and journal, Coming into the End Zone, and revealing that the devoted essayist, novelist, and critic possesses as keen an eye in her seventies as she did when she wrote The Spoil of Flowers thirty years earlier. Grumbach details each passing month and the trials and tribulations therein. Age and experience have tempered her anger, allowing her to view the world in a rosier light than she has before. In this eventful period that concludes with her move from Washington, DC, to Maine, Grumbach travels between signings and speeches, describes her home life in a new state, and deals not only with her own mortality, but with that of her daughter. Grumbach's wisdom and wit endure as she looks back on her own memories, seeing the world as only Doris Grumbach can.
A New York Times Notable Book: To truly understand herself, Doris Grumbach embraces solitude With a busy career as a novelist, essayist, reviewer, and bookstore owner, Doris Grumbach has little opportunity to be alone. However, after seventy-five years on the planet, she finally has her chance: Her partner has departed for an extended book-buying trip, and Grumbach has been given fifty days to relax, think, and write about her experience. In this graceful memoir, Grumbach delicately balances the beauty of turning one's back on everything with the hardship of complete aloneness. Even as she attends church and collects her mail, she moves like a shadow, speaking to no one. Left only to her books and music in the midst of a Maine winter, she must look within herself for solace. The result of this reflection is a powerful meditation on the meaning of aging, writing, and one's own company--and reaffirmation of the power of friends and companionship.
Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, Irish recluses known as the "Ladies of Llangollen," spent most of their adult lives in seclusion in their home in Wales in the late 1700s. This is the story of their relationship.
A tender and imaginative retelling of the adventures of two of history's most compelling women In 1778 Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby left County Kilkenny for Wales to live together as a married couple. Both well born, highly educated Irish women, the Ladies of Llangollen, as they came to be known, defied all eighteenth-century social convention and spent half a century together in a loving relationship. Removed from the intrusive gaze of the world, the fictional Eleanor and Sarah retreat to their shared home to study literature and language and enjoy their solitude. In an imagined account, Doris Grumbach brings this gripping chronicle to new audiences. With a keen sense of the rhythms and routines of longtime partnership, Grumbach breathes vivid life into this fascinating story of a passion both shocking and steadfast.
A look into the daily life of one of America's great memoirists At seventy-seven Doris Grumbach is as sharp as ever, and in Life in a Day she examines the experiences of her later years, from the dreaded writer's block to the many hours she has spent reading to the effects of an increasingly modern and interconnected world. Imbued with Grumbach's characteristic candor and verve, Life in a Day is a celebration of the meaning to be found in the quotidian.
Rich with evocations of old New York, this is the story of 3 women growing up in the 20s, meeting at Barnard in the late 30s, and fulfilling their destinies in the 70s.
United by chance during their formative years at Barnard College, three women come of age in New York Minna Grant, Maud Noon, and Liz Becker are assigned as roommates during their freshman year at Barnard. The daughter of Communist parents, Liz makes a name for herself as a photographer. Minna, bright and pretty, is an avid swimmer with a promising academic future. And Maud, an unprepossessing scholarship student, catches the eye of the handsomest boy at Columbia and rises to fame as a poet. As the decades pass, each woman lives out her own individual passions, tragedies, and destiny. Grumbach's courageous and nuanced tale of female friendship, coming of age, and New York across the decades is a must-read.
The moving portrait of a woman stranded in her lonely fame Franny Fuller, blond, buxom, and beguiling, is the sort of woman who harnesses a power that can enthrall a nation. The legendary movie star has captured the imaginations of audiences, men, and columnist Mary Maguire, who is writing her biography. But just who is the human within the celebrity? This is the story of how Fanny Marker from Utica, New York, was transformed into Franny Fuller--a famous actress with a life of private misery. Doris Grumbach takes readers beyond the glamour of the silver screen with this poignant novel of one woman's sad reality.
O Pioneers!, Willa Cather's first great novel, is the classic American story of pioneer life as embodied by one remarkable woman and her singular devotion to the land. Alexandra Bergson arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Nebraska as a young girl and grows up to turn it into a prosperous farm. In this unforgettable story,Cather conveys both the physical realities of the landscape, as well as the mythic sweep of the transformation of the frontier, more faithfully and perhaps more fully than any other work of fiction.
A literary master looks ahead to her eighties As her eightieth birthday approaches, Doris Grumbach does not feel melancholy or saddened by the upcoming event, despite the loss of friends such as Kay Boyle and Dorothy Day--instead she takes it as an opportunity both to look backward and to grow. In this, her summer of unexpected content, Grumbach weaves the elegiac and the practical into a delightful tapestry of experience. She looks deep into her own history, telling stories of her life in the hardscrabble New York of the 1940s, working as a copyeditor. She details her near encounter with a seventy-two-year-old Bertrand Russell, calling it the closest she has ever come to sleeping with a Nobel Laureate. Grumbach lets us into her life and introduces us to the characters that have peopled her nearly eight decades on Earth. As the fateful day of her celebration draws near, the main topic on Doris Grumbach's mind is not herself; it's her guests. The Pleasure of Their Company is a meticulously planned party that any reader would be honored to attend.
The story of an ecstatic spiritual moment--and the search to experience it again When she was twenty-seven years old, writer Doris Grumbach had an epiphany. It was as if God were right there beside her, and she had a "feeling of peace so intense that it seemed to expand into ineffable joy." After this fleeting moment, Grumbach became determined to recapture what she had felt. The Presence of Absence is the story of her fifty-year search. Grumbach is an open-minded and skilled seeker, and she writes candidly of the people she has met along the way. She details how she lost her path after decades of going to her Protestant church and writes of her turn to personal spirituality. In her quest to find God, she encounters a multitude of philosophies and gives all of them their due. She reads the works of Thomas Merton and Simone Weil, seeks the advice of her seminary-attending daughter, and studies the Psalms. Despite the setbacks of disease, injury, and ego, Grumbach perseveres in her pursuit of beauty and proof in the absence.
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