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Raw Edges: A Memoir Hardcover – March 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This memoir shares a compelling story, often poetic and sometimes heartbreaking, rich with the makings of wisdom. . . . Barber is unquestionably a talented writer. She captures setting in vivid detail and evokes metaphors that are truly beautiful, even breathtaking.”-- Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought



Raw Edges . . . tells the story of a woman redefining herself as a person and how her Mormon faith provided a unique experience on her journey to a new life. Moving and poignant, Raw Edges is a memoir well worth reading for insight on the life of a not-so-common Mormon woman.” -- Midwest Book Review



“Barber’s empathy and ability to articulate the emotions of divorce, loss, and struggle render her more than simply a regional or Mormon author, but an author of national scope.”-- ForeWord Reviews



“At a time when we’re accustomed to seeing failed relationships through the kaleidoscope of advice columns and talk-show gabbing, Barber takes divorce into the territory of literary art.”-- Salt Lake Tribune

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Phyllis Barber is the award-winning author of seven books, including an earlier memoir, How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir. She teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Writing Program and lives in Denver. She was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 2005.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nevada Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087417807X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874178074
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,770,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Phyllis Barber is a writer living in Park City, Utah. She writes about the West, the desert, the Mormons who played a significant role in settling the West and creating the person she's become, and about matters of the spirit with its familiar and unfamiliar reaches. She's been writing award-winning stories, articles, essays, and books for over thirty-five years, in between being the mother of four sons, teaching creative writing, riding her bicycle, traveling the world, reading a wide spectrum of books, and serving as a community volunteer.

Her eighth book and latest memoir, TO THE MOUNTAIN: MEMOIR OF A MORMON SEEKER, is forthcoming from Quest Books in May 2014, and is about her twenty-year hiatus from Mormonism and her travels to participate in a wide variety of spiritual persuasions---shamans in Peru, Tibetan Buddhist monks in North India, megachurches in Denver, and more.

Her first memoir, HOW I GOT CULTURED, won the AWP (Associated Writing Programs) Award for Creative Nonfiction in 1991 as well as the 1993 Association for Mormon Letters Award for Best Autobiography. It has been widely anthologized and listed as one of the top five books written about Las Vegas by the Las Vegas Mercury and browser.com. The second memoir, titled RAW EDGES, is an intimate and frank recounting of the dissolution of a marriage---an account written to be useful to others who've traveled the sometimes challenging path through marriage, divorce, and coming to terms with one's self.

She's currently finishing up a collection of essays titled Searching for Spirit about her experiences among shamans in Peru and Ecuador, Tibetan Buddhist monks in Lhasa and Sikkim in North India, Baptist congregations in Arkansas and South Carolina, with goddess worshipers in the Yucatan, and at an LDS (Mormon) welfare cannery in Colorado. Several of these essays have been published by upstreet, Agni Magazine, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and Sunstone: Mormon Experience, Scholarship, Issues & Art.

Phyllis Barber's desire as a writer has always been to write words that touch people's hearts and minds, even as she's appreciated written words that have touched her heart and mind and enriched her life. She believes in wrestling with the challenging issues of being alive and often takes risks by writing frankly, unblinkingly, about the raw edge of things. She's come to believe that writing in a deeply emotional and honest way exposes the connectedness of all human beings.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nur Alima on January 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This memoir had to have taken Ms. Barber a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to write. I read this book cover to cover and thought about it for weeks after finishing it. A month later I picked it up and read it all over again. Ms. Barber has woven inside themes in her life that at some point every reader will relate to. Much has been said about Barber's divorce and dealing with issues contrary to her Mormon faith. The beliefs of her ex-husband and all that came with them is laid out very well. It is understandable the way Ms. Barber wrestled the issues involved because her words invite you inside of her head and thought processes. What I found most compelling is the brutal honesty Ms. Barber pours out to her readers. This memoir has moved me in a way that no other has. It feels like I went on a literal journey with Ms. Barber as she rides her bike 1,000 miles across the country. What she went through physically (at times nothing less than torturous) was ultimately necessary for her to process the mental anguish she endured for at least 7 years (the lean years as she calls them). The bike riding journey is a story within other stories and it makes for a fascinating experience as a reader.

There were times when I had to put the book down while reading it because the emotional honesty was so intense. There are major issues of the human condition in the memoir that are addressed head on, no apologies. Raw and honest. Issues such as the death of a child, grief, guilt, the infidelity of a partner, depression, dealing with a complex and sometimes confusing religion and beliefs, the raising of children within a marriage riddled with complications.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mimi Schaefer on July 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Raw Edges by Phyllis Barber is the true story of one woman's search for herself after half a lifetime of trying to live within the lines. When the author finally accepts the truth of her life and rejects all notions of how life should be but really isn't, she transforms into a stronger and wiser woman. But the simple, straight and true path of Mormon ideals and decades spent conforming to social norms and mores leads to living life in a constant state of deceit. While honesty existed between husband and wife, Phyllis tried to force an outward appearance that fit within the dictates of her religion. The book is replete with moments of insight and self discovery. Phyllis, however, does not get there without a great internal battle and this battle is interwoven through the difficult years after the dissolution of her brief second marriage. Set in a Denver attic in 2002, Phyllis writes of the depression in poignant terms. "But still, when I climbed the three flights of stairs, untied my shoes, and then scrubbed the burnt oatmeal from the bottom of the pan, I knew I was falling into a deep hole again, the thousands-of-feet-deep hole. The place that was dark, dank, and oozy. I'd never seen any handholds, footholds or ladders out of that hole. No exits. I felt armless, legless. My bones were cottage cheese when I fell into that negative space. I wanted to escape before I fell into that place again, maybe even cash in my chips, Nevada girl that I was." Beautiful narrative, filled with memories associated with food - comfort food. Every word shows how her mind was trying to save itself, trying to explain herself to herself. Phyllis had reached the middle of her life only to face the fact that she didn't know herself and needed to start over. Raw Edges is aptly named.Read more ›
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Life isn't like it is in the fairy tales, but it doesn't mean it can't be good. "Raw Edges" is a memoir from Phyllis Barber as she shares her struggles of falling out of her marriage, a rarity in the Mormon culture where divorce is far from accepted as a common solution. She tells the story of a woman refining herself as a person and how her Mormon faith provided a unique experience on her journey to a new life. Moving and poignant, "Raw Edges" is a memoir well worth reading for insight on the life of a not-so-common Mormon woman.
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