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Fierce: A Memoir Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 21, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 21, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Moss does what you'd expect from a visual artist: she paints pictures with her words. As with her first memoir, Change Me into Zeus's Daughter, she uses the painful stuff of her life—an alcoholic father; numerous abusive husbands; continual, exhausting poverty—and turns it into chilling, visceral imagery. Recalling a day in her tumultuous childhood when her father shot the family pony in a rage, she writes, "Then I saw it, clear as a bell—the tractor dragging the dead pony through the freshly plowed soybean field behind our house. The wet, red mud guttered on either side of the pony like a wake left by a boat." She mercilessly braids the gruesome beauty of images like this with a hopeful message: survive. But beyond surviving, Moss creates. She holds fast to her dream of becoming a visual artist, no matter how impractical a notion it is for a woman from a working-class background. Even more moving, she doesn't become an artist—or a writer for that matter—who transcends and leaves her beginnings behind; she carries them with her, puts them on canvas and paper and exhibits them for the world to see. Admittedly, there are times when the rhythm feels a bit off, but even Moss's lack of pacing feels like part of the erratic whirlwind that is her life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this follow-up to her highly regarded childhood memoir, Change Me into Zeus's Daughter (2000), artist and author Moss traces her determined footsteps from her rural Alabama home to Sarasota with her 8-year-old son, Jason, in tow. Leaving her abusive second husband, she finally follows her dream, at age 27, to attend art school, paying the bills with an evening job in the school's photo lab with Jason nearby in his sleeping bag. Her next destination is graduate school in Des Moines, chosen both because of a scholarship and because it was farthest away from yet another violent man who stalks her every move. Interspersed throughout Moss' engaging narrative are details of her frequent trips home, where she grew up with eight siblings, a nurturing mother, and an alcoholic father. Embellished with details of her brother's alcoholism, her father's suicide, her destructive relationship with a schizophrenic artist, the second-class treatment she received because of her welfare status, and her mother's faith and encouragement, Moss' struggle ultimately yields uplifting testimony to tenacity and familial love. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743229452
  • ASIN: B003IWYLJ8
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By O. Merce Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
*****

This book is the memoir sequel to "Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter". Although it could easily be read alone, I found it was an incredible experience to read it after reading the earlier memoir. Knowing the background of the author's childhood from the first book adds richness to the already rich second memoir "Fierce".

Although both books describe very difficult life experiences, they are far from depressing; they are about the triumph of love and the human spirit. I cannot imagine anyone having had a more troubled or abusive childhood than did the author, but the central theme of family love is what ,most affects the family members and holds them together above all.

I read this book as slowly as I could to make it last. It was just so good. I can't imagine anyone buying it and thinking they didn't get more than their money's worth, as it delivers on all levels---style of writing, suspense and plot, authenticity and transparency, the ability to draw you into the author's world.

"Fierce" takes place mostly after the author is an adult and leaves home although there are many flashbacks to childhood. "Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter" is about the author's childhood. I would buy both books together in hardback and save them forever to be read again and again.

*****
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Format: Hardcover
When I first read "Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter," I immediately wanted more from memoirist Barbara Robinette Moss. In her follow-up "Fierce," she does not disappoint.

"Fierce" is Barbara's story of leaving all she knew behind to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Every step of the way, childhood demons haunt her: her charismatic and alcoholic father, staggering poverty and abuse, broken dreams and rural indigence. Men with whom she has close relationships fight demons of their own, Patrick with schizophrenia and brother Stewart with alcoholism. Her childhood memories wake her at night, but Barbara never loses focus of what is most important - her only son Jason and a better life for both of them.

As with "Zeus's Daughter," the author successfully sets the psychology of time and place. We can see the pony tangled in barbwire and the father's shot at close range. We are there when Stewart wrestles with an angel, and we rejoice when Barbara, like Einstein the cat, defies the pull of gravity.

"Fierce" - simply put - is unforgettable. Barbara's story not only inspires, it is a life-affirming testament to the human spirit.
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Format: Hardcover
The details in Barbara Moss's books may be particularly hers, but the story she tells really belongs to all of us: For none of us escapes suffering and, with remarkable skill, Moss's writing gives eloquent voice to our suffering as well as hers, and then (this is the real accomplishment!) shows us what it means to persist, prevail, and finally transcend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book I could not put down, except to sleep!

As a former counselor who dealt with families of

alcoholics, I cannot emphasize enough how powerfully

truthful this book is.

As someone who has survived the death of a family member

by suicide, I found it to be extremely accurate, deeply

moving, and ultimately hopeful. Barbara Moss is a gifted,

luminous writer. Her wisdom and clarity are profoundly

affecting.

The book was more than a reading experience for me:

it was an affirmation of the ultimate power of love and

a reminder that it is never too late to turn one's life

around.

I'm glad I bought hardcover instead of waiting for the

paperback.

I will definitely give this book as a gift.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like one of the other reviewers, I found myself reading until late at night and reaching for the book first thing in the morning. I'm sorry we lost a great artist and writer. Barbara Robinette Moss passed away in 2009. Moss wrote about her dramatic, troublesome life growing up in poverty in Alabama. Even as a young girl she had a strong desire to be an artist, and she made good on her dream by moving to Iowa to attend college. Her father was a raging alcoholic who endearingly called her "Southpaw" and later, had her drive him on dangerous runs to pick up his bootleg liquor. She described their weekends as "war zones" when her father would drink. Her mother bore eight children and endured awful things. She emerges with surprising wisdom in one scene. The details of the story make it a fantastic read-the real life characters are phenomenal. Didn't read Zeus's Daughter, her first book, but recommend Fierce for memoir fans.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a truly amazing story from a woman I feel honored to have met in person. A woman, mother, artist, author full of pride and perseverance; with such charm and delight, one would never know the scars of her past. There is a part of her story for each of you: from heartache to addiction, despair to survival. In this latest memoir of hers, Ms. Moss will make you cry . . . and laugh to the point where you want to stand up and cheer for her triumphs. With the deepest gratitude and utmost respect, Michelle Johnson

Minneapolis, MN
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