Favorite Quotes

"For my totem, the alley cat. We share the situation of small predators who easily become prey. I have my equivalent of claws and teeth, and indeed my arched back and loud hiss are my best defenses. When I need to hide my size and weakness, I can look fiercer than I am, but when I cannot talk or threaten or argue my way out of trouble, then I am in a lot of trouble. We are scavengers in the alleys and streets of a society we do not control and scarcely influence. We survive and perish both by taking lovers. Freedom is a daily necessity like water, and we love most loyally and longest those who allow us at least occasionally to vanish and wander the curious night. To them we always return from the eight deaths before the last."


from Braided Lives by Marge Piercy

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A unique voice

The Woman Who Walked on Water

Title: The Woman Who Walked on Water
By: Lily Tuck

At the center of Lily Tuck 's captivating novel is Adele, an affluent housewife from suburban Connecticut. Following a “chance” meeting in Chartres Cathedral while on a family vacation, Adele forms a deep attachment to an Indian man who becomes her guru. From that initial encounter, Adele’s life is changed. Despite appeals by her husband and children, Adele is compelled, time and again, to return to India to be in her guru’s presence. While in India, Adele neglects her appearance and lives meagerly while spending lavishly to please her guru.

We learn what we know of Adele through the eyes of the narrator, an unnamed woman who befriends Adele during holidays at a Caribbean resort. Guests and staff of the resort’s restaurant are riveted as Adele ventures out to sea each day, her three Irish setter companions in tow. On one exceptionally stormy day, witnesses are awestruck to see Adele swim out. They are left to ponder Adele’s resolve, her strength, the distance she will swim, when and whether she will return.

This is an elegantly written book that left me wanting to know more about Lily Tuck, an author with a unique voice. Each chapter of the novel is prefaced with a spiritual poem or excerpt from a sacred text. The novel itself reads as a fable or koan, repeating text and raising questions while delivering no obvious answers. Is Adele truly called to seek enlightenment, or is she perhaps slightly mad, spoiled, or delusional? Is her essential longing for self-knowledge dormant in the rest of us?

Immediately after finishing The Woman who Walked on Water, I dove into Siam, Or, the Woman Who Shot a Man. The story of a young bride of a military advisor who moves with her husband to Bangkok on the brink of the Vietnam War, this book was equally dynamic in its emotional appeal and had the signature of the author, who says little in her prose and yet says a great deal more than is obvious. I look forward to reading Tuck’s other novels, which include Matisse: Or, The Woman Who Died Standing Up and The News from Paraguay, which won the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction

Posted by Wildruby on July 18, 2013 at 9 a.m.
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