The protagonist of Slow Emergencies lives in a sleepy New England college town, choreographing dances in her attic studio. She shares a comfortable house and a cozy life with her philosophy professor husband and two small daughters. But none of this quite satisfies Lin, who is consumed by her work. So when an irresistible offer comes--a dance company in Mexico City wants her to be its director--she leaves husband and children behind and becomes a traveling artist. Alas, just as her old life was haunted by the specter of an unfulfilled career, her new life is haunted by the specter of her children: "In the Mexico City subway, and in the streets--everywhere but in the dance--Lin is vulnerable to attack by babies. The second she hears a baby crying, panic seizes her."
Nancy Huston's writing comes alive when she's describing Lin's home life. The children, especially, are delicately observed. But although the author wants us to feel her heroine's overpowering need to dance, her writing on the subject is vague and pretentious, never letting us into the details of Lin's artistic process. In rehearsal, she and her partner are "welded together by the throbbing air." The dances themselves sound pretty awful: "It is about stone and sculpture, about failure leading to rage, then madness and finally to imprisonment." The kids, on the other hand, sound pretty terrific (one daughter insists that her mother is "as beautiful as Italy"). At such moments, it's difficult not to wonder whether Lin has put her eggs in the wrong basket. Still, in these postfeminist times, it's a daring choice to write with tenderness about a woman who abandons her babies for her art. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Canadian-born Huston relocated permanently to Paris at age 20, married literary and cultural critic Tzvetan Todorov, raised two children and has published many nonfiction books and seven novels (Steerforth issued The Mark of the Angel here with fanfare last year) in her adopted as well as her native tongue. Her latest domestic release, already acclaimed in France as La Virevolte, chronicles the experiences of a woman torn between continents and between the competing passions of motherhood and artistry. In an unnamed New England town, dancer Lin Lhomond marries college professor Derek and bears two children, Angela and Marina. Though Lin adores her babies, she longs for the space and time her art requires. When she is offered the directorship of a dance company in Mexico, she sees an escape, divorcing Derek and leaving the girls in order to pursue her passion. Huston documents both Lin's rise as a renowned choreographer, in Mexico, Paris and London, and Derek, Angela and Marina's stunned attempts to make a life without her. Though he is still in love with his former wife, and the girls cannot forget their mother, Derek finally marries fellow professor Rachel, an old friend of Lin's. In spare, cinematic prose, leaping from character to character and across two decades, Huston follows the girls' progress as they grow up to become troubled adults. Lin, meanwhile, still racked with guilt over abandoning her children, faces a career-threatening injury. Huston's loose, often unpunctuated narrative reads fluidly, but her lyrical language, called upon to carry the tale, cannot quite bear its weight; the novel's associative monologues may have worked better in the original French. As it is, Huston produces a sensitive, sweeping account of the difficulty of reconciling maternal and artistic callings, a topic that begs for a more sustained and focused treatment. A long, enthusiastic blurb from Jeffrey Lent may draw attention to this title. (Jan. 6)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.