- Series: American Lives
- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Bison Books; 1st edition (March 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803243545
- ISBN-13: 978-0803243545
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,243,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Days Are Gods (American Lives) Paperback – March 1, 2013
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Dissatisfied with her life in Los Angeles, where she served snacks on Hollywood television-commercial shoots, Stephens longed to be a writer. So she applied to graduate school, and, when accepted, she and her mate Christopher married and moved to Wellsville, in mountainous northern Utah, into a century-old house with a barn, milk house, and room for horses. She discovered her mostly Mormon neighbors to be tolerant and gracious to outsiders, an identity that Stephens downplayed by dressing local, covering her tattoo, and attending rodeos and community breakfasts. Local children asked to borrow her bathroom or ride their horses in her pasture. Within a year, she was pregnant and questioning the future impact of her life and the migration of other urbanites into the nearly pristine valley. Should she leave this place that had won her heart? Filled with rich description and personal stories, Stephen’s focused memoir recounts days of important self-discovery. --Rick Roche
"Stephens' lyric, visually detailed prose will remind readers that building a home can take more than just time; it takes a sense of belonging, of roots that stretch deep below the topsoil." Kirkus (Kirkus 20121226)
Liz Stephens s exquisite memoir, The Days Are Gods, tells a fascinating story of the search-for-self in unfamiliar territory. This literary debut is a pure pleasure to read. Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer (Dinty W. Moore 20120918)
Acutely self-aware, in indelible prose, Liz Stephens finds a future in America s past: not re-enactment, but re-creation, through the hard work of life-and-death responsibility. And in ultimately realizing she cannot be of any one place, Stephens gives an evocative voice to the values and vision that shaped the country. Judith Kitchen, author of Half in Shade (Judith Kitchen 20120918)
Liz Stephens writes in the tradition of westering women, from Isabella Bird to Pam Houston, about a place, its people, and the animals, wild and domestic, that lead their parallel lives in a quiet northern Utah valley. The Days Are Gods is shimmering, compelling, and accurate to the bone. --Mary Clearman Blew, author of Jackalope Dreams
Liz Stephens s beautifully written memoir, The Days are Gods, considers anew how the glamorous, myth-heavy cowboy past simmering just below the surface of the present continues to drive Americans westward and shapes how we live in and think about the West. As a newcomer to the Cache Valley of northern Utah, Stephens listens to her human and animal neighbors and to the land itself for a set of stories [that she might] inhabit. Stephens s account of her journey into this harsh and beautiful landscape will resonate with anyone who has sought to or dreamed of making a home in the West. The Days are Gods is perceptive, alluring, and immensely readable. --Lisa Knopp, author of What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte
The Days Are Gods is a reckoning: with the land, with history, and above all with oneself. Stephens gives us a memoir about living as fully and generously as we can while our time under the big sky lasts. --Eric LeMay, author of Immortal Milk
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Being a city girl in her 30s without any children, Stephens paints herself as an outsider in Cache Valley. As she and her husband learn to tend farm animals, till the land, and befriend their neighbors they experience the Mormon cultural roots tied to the land. When it comes to the Mormon people of Cache Valley, Stephens respectfully and fairly represents their lifestyles, strengths, and weaknesses. She is able to capture humanity in a realistic way outlining both the lovely and ugly aspects of human life.
More specifically, Stephens relates well to the joys and struggles of womanhood. She covers the issues of getting married, pursuing further education, and deciding to have children—which are issues that are relevant to all women. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially people who are looking to feel empowered and regain motivation to push forward to conquer new feats. Stephens expresses tangible ways to find adventure in regular daily living. She also demonstrates the possibility of adopting places as your own instead of staying tied solely to the place you were born.
Influenced by her work in the movie industry in L.A, Stephens skillfully plays with the idea of the western experience as viewed through movies--the pretend, the planned, the fake--and the reality of her western experience where kids can get hurt in rodeos and baby goats are moved from the cold outdoors to the warmth of the laundry room.
Stephens' writing is gorgeous. She writes like a poet: every small detail matters and each word is carefully chosen. She beautifully captures northern Utah; captures the people, the kids, the animals, and the landscape--so much beauty that I found my eyes brimming with tears time and time again. Stephens writes with no ax to grind, no cynicism. Every new experience is a waiting adventure--and this book made me want to view my own life that way. After turning the last page, I took grain out to our two horses, petted their long, winter coats, and looked at the mountains and sky with a fresh perspective.
Thank you, Liz Stephens, for helping me see the beauty that surrounds me, for helping me hang on to that beauty and goodness in the midst of a harsh northern Utah winter--and wait for spring.
Stephens has a musing bent but also crafts for her memoir a relaxed forward momentum and achieves a real narrative arc. It's a winning combination. She's open about what she's experiencing as the story ambles onward, and has a very appealing earthy persona. She raises goats and chickens, keeps horses and dogs, passes time with neighbors and pitches in. For her and her husband, the choice to have a baby is brave, a truly alien concept in their new Mormon-saturated hometown. But you can see it's true what she says, that she and her mate have done something gutsy in moving there and settling in, that they've indeed "taken the path of most resistance." They experience a lot of culture shock.
Late in the book, when a local couple whom Stephens has idolized turn frosty, it's moving and painful to read. The truth, poignancy, and much of the payoff of her memoir reside right there. May she continue to see what she's shown us, that as Emerson says our days themselves are gods. The Days are Gods is a book with a lot of heart and I really enjoyed it due to the author's honesty, humor, and storytelling ability.