Touch: Stories of Contact
Edited by Karina Magdalena Szczurek
A collection of short stories by twenty-two of South Africa's best writers, commissioned by Karina Magdalena Szczurek, on the theme of 'touch'. Some of the stories remember lost love or intimate encounters; some deal with everyday and chance meetings that are in some way transformative; others deal with familial interactions; one or two explore the idea of 'staying in touch'. All royalties will be donated to the Treatment Action Campaign.
The Honeymoon's Over True Stories of Love, Marriage, and Divorce
Freelance editor Chapin and literary agent Wofford-Girand gather essays by 21 women writers who dish about their troubled marriages. The suicide of her violent ex-husband renders Debra Magpie Earling gun-shy of future romances, and Lee Montgomery contemplates infidelity on a flirtatious ski weekend with her former college boyfriend while her trusting husband of 20 years is off visiting his ill father. Elissa Minor Rust's commitment to her husband is unwavering despite her break from the Mormon Church that once was their union's bedrock; an unplanned pregnancy threatens Annie Echols's marriage; and Daniela Kuper battles a religious guru for child custody. Although candid and heartfelt, many of these essays are unpolished, rambling and poorly edited, like Zelda Lockhart's saga of coming into her own as a lesbian and a mother. Another low is Terry McMillan's vulgar rant about an ex-husband, who admitted to homosexual exploits on national television. The two best pieces are self-knowing, gutsy and carefully crafted: Joyce Maynard confesses how her earlier infidelity nibbled away at a lonely marriage that abruptly ended when her husband slept with the babysitter while she was away caring for her dying mother; and Ann Hood proves that a loving marriage can miraculously survive a child's death.
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An Uncertain Inheritance
Writers on Caring for Family
Edited by Nell Casey
Casey, a mental health journalist and editor (Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression) has collected a remarkable array of mostly original essays by talented writers on being cared for themselves and caring for parents, children and spouses with illnesses as varied as depression and brain injuries. The writers have faced age-old dilemmas: for instance, novelist Julia Glass grapples with her own mortality and tries to raise two young children while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Other essays venture into more modern problems: Julia Alvarez and Anne Landsman both struggle to help parents who live in other countries. Many of the essays are beautiful and all are moving, but they are also relentless. The tales of cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's start to blur together, no matter how artfully told. Sam Lipsyte's irreverent portrayal of caring for his mother as she died of breast cancer shortly after he kicked drug addiction provides welcome relief. He describes injecting his mother's medication: I tended to make a grand, nearly cinematic deal of flicking the bubbles away, as though to say, 'Now Mom, aren't you glad I was a junkie?' Other essays are less developed, and Andrew Solomon rehashes territory he covered in The Noonday Demon. Overall, the essays are well worth reading—just not all at once.
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