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Depth-of-Field: a novel Paperback – June 22, 2011
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About the Author
Susan Spencer Smith has published short fiction as well as feature articles for newspapers and professional journals. In New York City she wrote and produced corporate television. Smith has also taught creative writing and visual arts at colleges and universities in New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Vermont, Ukraine, and Belarus. A fourth generation Californian, born in Berkeley, Smith now lives and writes in Vermont near beautiful Lake Champlain.
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Such are the thoughts of a young wife of a promising doctoral candidate in the liberal arts. The time is 1965, and Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" and Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" have seeped into the brain of even the lowest of the low, the wife of an academic. Diana Williams is committed to her husband's anthropological study of Malaysian land tenure issues, but her life path is not dissimilar to that of the fluffy gray Malaysian kitten thrown out of the window by a British pre-schooler. Follow Diana as she sorts out an inconvenient pregnancy, a divorce, and a mind-numbing typing job in a cancer facility basement in Manhattan, and you won't need any American history books to comprehend the lives of many women who came of age in the 1960's, a time and a society that dangled the possibility of freedom of expression in front of women and then punished them if they reached out. Photography is Diana's passion, but it could be anything except child-rearing, the only sphere delegated to women, and then only with strings attached, as Diana finds during a legal custody dispute. "Depth of Field" is engaging, with surprising plot twists and credible portrayals of Malaysia, St. Louis, New York City, and Ghana, all equally foreign yet similar in human terms. In the field of photography, Diana's talent does not turn out to be legendary. As she admits to herself, "At best, I dig deeper into the grooves made by others." But, given the obstacles she's faced, every photograph she prints in her bathroom darkroom, in black and white or color, embodies the transfiguration of an artist's soul.