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I Just Lately Started Buying Wings: Missives from the Other Side of Silence Paperback – June 22, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555975607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555975609
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kupperman describes her taut, startling, and evocative essays as missives, and they are, indeed, like letters from and to her past selves. But her measured and mesmerizing true stories about her painfully fractured childhood feel as though they were ripped from the pages of pulp fiction. As Kupperman revisits her mother’s suicide, her drug-addicted half-brother’s death, and the overwhelming yet ultimately obfuscating stack of court papers documenting her divorced parents’ marathon custody battles, Kupperman is left with more mysteries than answers. Her impressionistic accounts of her sojourn in France and her journey in pursuit of her roots in Russia are laced with haunting musings on Chernobyl, the openings and obstacles of language, and the discovery that the past she sought never existed. Kupperman’s legacy of lies, secrets, delusions, and suffering affected her relationships, led her to work in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, and inspired her to channel her complex experiences and interpretations into dispatches of awe, tenacity, and compassion. Winner of the Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction, Kupperman’s piercing first book is beyond category. --Donna Seaman

Review

“[These essays] return readers to the fundamental nonfiction experience, an immersion in real life, exquisitely rendered. Here is a world—her world—so finely observed that it becomes our world, too. Here is a voice, both smoldering and meditative, that inhabits every page like an attentive host, inviting us in and offering no choice but to step over the threshold.”—Sue Halpern, Bakeless Nonfiction Judge
 
“'Go fish, Kimche, go fish,' says her grandmother Fanya. And fish Kim Dana Kupperman does, down into the deep uncertain pool of suicide, death by AIDS, religious identity, bodies altered by the radiation poured forth at Chernobyl. These linked stories add up to a life—her life—in ways that are both harrowing and affirming, and that command our readerly respect.”—Albert Goldbarth, Author of
The Kitchen Sink and To Be Read in 500 Years
 
“Kim Dana Kupperman is many things in this collection of essays—a daughter of tumultuous parents, granddaughter in search of her Ukrainian grandmother, sister of variously troubled half-brothers, a woman trying to sort through the vagaries of her own heart. We note the many things she is and has been, but what is even more exciting in this brilliant debut is that we feel in the presence of a writer. With sensuous, precise, and superbly crafted language, Kupperman gives us what literature at its best does: compelling stories artfully told.”—Barbara Hurd, author of Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains
 
“In prose that is by turns lyrical and precise, Kim Kupperman examines the mystery and depth of the human heart. Generous, forceful, and compassionate, I Just Lately Started Buying Wings is a stunning debut by an essayist of the first rank.”—Michael Steinberg, Founding Editor, Fourth Genre
 
“A remarkably talented writer, Kim Dana Kupperman understands the essay first and foremost as a literary form. Yet she never ventures into craft or creativity for its own sake. I Just Lately Started Buying Wings is a high-voltage book grounded in the passionate and often messy business of living. And best of all with these essays, something vital is always at issue.”—Robert Atwan, Series Editor, The Best American Essays

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Krista Richards Mann on August 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Kupperman's essays are beautiful and emotionally intricate while remaining very grounded. She leads the reader on her journey through a challenged childhood, travels abroad and finding her grown-up presence and in so doing invites us to share in her experience at the same time we consider that which we all share. Her essays are crafted with a compelling back and forth through time that is recalls human memory and the way one might tell a story to a beloved friend. I recommend this book highly and eagerly await her next!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Diana Dzubak on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Kupperman is a person of honesty. She does not mince words, neither in her writing nor in her speech; she tells it like it is. This honesty, sometimes brutal and blunt, other times soothing and refreshing, is something that sets Kupperman's writing apart. It is not honesty for the sake of shock or alarm; Kupperman simply wishes to examine this life for what it really is. She is painfully honest about her mixed feelings about her parents, who almost let her get torn to pieces between the two of them during their divorce. She is so open about her own confusion when, thirty-five years later, she has a heart-thrilling affair with a man she meets at a bookstore. These honest appraisals of her life, no matter how chilling or sad or awkward, kept me coming back for more because I loved the way Kupperman talked about them.

In "The Perfect Meal," Kupperman examines how during this time she felt her life turning into a cliche: "I've never considered that the cliches I've headed into (including this one) are merely reminders that I'm alive, kicking around the same story over and over, trying to transcend the too familiar, sometimes unable to twist language in new ways to describe what or how I'm living." Sure, Kupperman's life did follow many of the cliches--lonely child of divorced parents finding solace in writing; young woman discovering her identity through various adventures; married woman having an affair with a married man that she knows will never work out. But despite living the stories that have been lived a thousand times before, Kupperman does manage to shed new light on the stories. She manages, despite her fears, to twist language in a way that describes how she, and how we all, feel about living.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bryce P. Johnson on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
A few weeks ago, Kupperman came to one of my classes and read some of her most recent work. She drew me in with the honesty and emotional precision that other reviewers have noted. While some pigeonhole her as a creative non-fictionist--a delineation she rejects-- I'd call her more of a poetic autobiographical historic genealogical narrator. And I'd say it has a nice ring to it.

As for the book, it's captivating. There's not a lot I can add about the plot that other reviewers haven't already, but I have to say that the chapter about digging through the records of her parents' divorce trial is especially impressive. She wants you to feel how she did being yanked back and forth between her squabbling parents, with their childish antics and all. Until the judge's ultimate decision over custody, you will, almost simultaneously, sympathize with and distrust each parent just as she did. Even as her father given legal stewardship takes Kupperman from her mother for the last time, she kicks and screams although she clearly loves her dad. It is definitely an insightful look into the experience of a child's view of a custody battle.

My one complaint: the narrative pace is staggeringly smooth throughout the book. It's really a bit monotonous. After hearing Kupperman speak in person, it was easy to hear her slow, deep voice while I read from her book, but maybe a little too easy. Even the most dramatic dialogue is written with the same slow, yet thoughtful pace. I suppose Kupperman is really playing to her strength-the precision and poesy of her thoughts. It's a bit dark too. Not many happy thoughts.

All in all though, Kupperman's "I Just Lately Started Buying Weeks" is a must-read. Enjoy!
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By Carolyn LaVoy on March 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In her essays from I Just Lately Started Buying Wings, Kim Dana Kupperman weaves the

stories of her life with other stories of other people’s lives, meticulously recording the details

into lovely lines of prose. Subtitled “Missives from the Other Side of Silence,” this collection of

meditations on everything from AIDS and suicide, familial relationships and friendships gone

sour, and appearing, again and again, death—the meaning of formerly innocent words such as

remains and arrangements, and the sensory experiences of ashes that were once a person.

Kupperman wastes no time in getting to these topics. The first sentence describes a rainy

morning—on the day she had to go identify her mother’s body at the morgue.

Kupperman’s eye for details draws her essays out of pencil stubs and the unnamable

color of institutional walls, fingerprints on refrigerator doors. She writes in the first essay that

when she wants to remember something, she chooses the strangest part and catalogues its

fragments—like the color of the walls in the morgue where she identified her mother once again,

or, in the moment when she catalogues the strangest part of the trip to the Normand beaches to

scatter the ashes of her brother (a woman who needed a light, unaware of the solemn purpose of

her family’s visit). She turns these catalogues into very lovely prose, poetic in its sharp honesty

and lyrical descriptions; realistic as she is elusive, Kupperman leaps in and out of lyrical

descriptive dream-like images and the reality of real life—the poetic existentialism of scattering

the ashes of her family, and the reality of not being able to get the lid off the can to do so.
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