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The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate Paperback – Bargain Price, October 1, 2006
"The Black Presidency"
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
this print of mine, that has kept its color
Alive through so many cleanings; this dull null
Navy I wear to work, and wear from work, and so
To my bed, so to my grave, with no
Complaints, no comment: neither from my chief,
The Deputy Chief Assistant, nor his chief--
Only I complain. . . . this serviceable
Body that no sunlight dyes, no hand suffuses
But, dome-shadowed, withering among columns,
Wavy beneath fountains--small, far-off, shining
In the eyes of animals, these beings trapped
As I am trapped but not, themselves, the trap,
Aging, but without knowledge of their age,
Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death--
Oh, bars of my own body, open, open
Randall Jarrell "The Woman At The Washington Zoo"
Marjorie Williams died of liver cancer last year. Her husband has put together her columns/essays, some of them published and some of them are new, into this book. He titled the book from the poem written by Randall Jerrell. They are extraordinary stories, and the most extraordinary is the story of her diagnosis. She tells us about the physicians she visited, the tests she endured, the support of family and friends, and the hope that she would overcome. We know now, of course, that she did not. But, in the telling of her story and that of many other people and their relationships, she opens up her world to us.
Her columns/essays of the people who inhabit Washington are personal. How Clinton told Gore why he lost the election, and how their relationship mattered. Looking into Richard Dorman's closet and playing ping pong. Barbara Bush, the Head of the Bush household, so frightened her mother-in-law, that she did not want to cross her.Read more ›
Her pieces about living with illness and facing death will enter the canon of literature on how to live and die.
Her loss echoes throughout this book, yet it is a volume full of pleasure. Anyone who loves great writing will luxuriate in spending time with this writer working at the height of her powers.
From an alcoholic literary family, Ms. Williams was brilliant at Harvard, ambitious in her work with Joni Evans at Viking Press before launching another career in her mid-twenties at The Washington Post, and an exacting wordsmith where writing was her gift but her family was her life. (A comparable life of the poet Jane Keynon was published this year by her husband Donald Hall: "The Best Day, The Worst Day." Ms. Keynon was another gifted wordsmith who would also die at the age of 47.)
Her husband picked the best of her observations on life and politics from Vanity Fair and The Washington Post. It is amazing how many politicians would allow themselves to be interviewed by her, when time after time, she would be brutally honest in her attention to details and her summations. "The Woman at the Washington Zoo" is best read as memoir celebrating a life fully lived and tragically cut short for her family. How do you live, knowing that you will die sooner than later and leave your two young children behind? This book is that answer.
Williams died prematurely, at age 47, leaving two young children as well as a legacy of writing. Her husband collected the writings as a tribute to his wife and a pleasure to the reader.
Like any collection of columns, some will appeal more than others. Some topics seem dated, especially the Bill Clinton stories, and some obscure, such as the story of Richard Darman. The tone and style vary considerably.
But every so often Williams really captures a truth in a truly fresh and unique way, and that's what makes the book worth reading.
Writing about Princess Diana's death, she reminds us that almost every woman shares the experience of getting into a car with a man who really shouldn't be driving. And we feel powerless and sometimes really are.
The Barbara Bush essay seems more timely than ever, especially after the famous Hurricane Katrina remark ("They're better off now...") Some Texans had told me they're not fond of the former First Lady, shaking their heads when I asked why. And it's not surprising that George Sr. was a famous flirt with his own indiscretions and affairs.
And we get a rare discussion of Jeb Bush, W's brother, where Williams wonders which is worse: watching your older brother become prominent or suspecting your younger brother is handsomer and smarter.
Other essays are all over the map - everything from her child's relationship to insects to somber, rather abstract discussions of sexual harassment, in separate essays about Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas. Not being a parent, I can't relate to her tales of parenting, but of course most readers will.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great collection of essays.
I don't want to minimize Williams' work with political figures and famous people - she was wonderfully adept at navigating those... Read more
The articles were probably interesting when first published, but now they are dated.Published 12 months ago by On the Way
Wonderful book, Carolyn Hax mentioned an article and I am so happy I ordered the book.Interesting perspective over the years.Published on June 2, 2013 by Ann N.
I found this book to be very slow and unexciting. I didn't even finish it because I got bored. I read a lot! because I have a long commute on the train. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Fran Smith-Finally I selected this book after reading many recommendations. I was not disappointed. Williams was a talent in so many ways from writing to research to comprehension... Read morePublished on April 2, 2013 by frances k. smith
On time, affordable, super dee duper doo doo dee doo der awe some ness. profile stuff a go go. Yes.Published on February 27, 2013 by Adam Wilson
Marjorie Williams is an excellent writer and I am enjoying every essay she wrote in this book. I worked as an attorney in Washington for 20 years and am familiar with the names of... Read morePublished on March 12, 2012 by Farm Girl
This is the only essay-compilation volume that I have ever read cover to cover. Engaging, illuminating, thought-provoking. I had not known the author until after her death. Read morePublished on July 25, 2010 by Bartles
Thanks to editor Timothy Noah, for compiling this collection of his deceased wife's writings - a legacy of getting to the heart of the matter, whether the topic is why feminists... Read morePublished on June 12, 2010 by Becca Chopra