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Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith Paperback – October 4, 2005
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Diamant has achieved fame worldwide as the author of The Red Tent (1997), but this collection brings together essays that first saw life as newspaper and magazine columns and were written primarily before her megabook. She has revised and updated most of the pieces and links them together as seasons of life--love and marriage, motherhood, middle age, death--offering ruminations along the way about life's precious milestones, including holidays, retirement, and the moment when a child leaves home. Diamant also writes about her husband, a lapsed Presbyterian who converted to Judaism and helped her find a more meaningful faith, and her daughter and what it meant to her sense of self to become a mother. She talks about her first retreat and how she wants to retire to a commune with other aged hippies. And always there is her religion, which centers her, sustains her, and marks the passage of time. The essays, some quite short, have the feel of Anna Quindlen's later work but with a Jewish flavor, of course. Yet the topics and feelings Diamant writes about are so universal that putting a religious label on them does them an injustice. Comforting and thought provoking but never saccharine. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Readers will find much to identify with....[Diamant's] pieces are laced with an insider's irony, as well as insight and poignancy." -- Jewish Woman
"Celebrates the mystery, complexity, and power of faith." -- Book magazine
"Diamant's graceful prose is down-to-earth and true." -- The Boston Globe
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Good book though, delightfully written and of course very insightful in some place with good giggles dotted about.
Diamant begins by exploring "Love, Marriage, Baby Carriage." In this section she shares personal and general thoughts on marriage and partnership. These thoughts, like those in the rest of the collection, in many ways center not just on marriage, but on a life lived within a particular religious tradition. She shares how she and her husband celebrate Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and his conversion to Judaism. While this section of the book is actually dedicated to her husband, she does discuss her first marriage in frank emotional terms. From pet peeves to health issues, from mutual friends to the birth of their child, Diamant is candid about her marriage; the specifics she shares point to universals.
Next, Diamant dives into the topic of motherhood and her focus is on her daughter Emilia. She writes loving essays about parenthood as both "an adventure and an education." Two essays in this section stand out. The first is entitled "One" and discusses Diamant and her husband's decision to have only one child, despite the pressure to give Emilia siblings. The other is "The Mother's Bat Mitzvah Speech." This speech is a touching and tender tribute to her daughter on a very special occasion.
The third section in PITCHING MY TENT gathers essays about friends and friendship. These are short yet sweet.
"Time Zones" is the fourth section and one of the most interesting topics of the book. Here, Diamant examines sacred time and ordinary time by looking at the Jewish year and some of its holidays and commemorations. In essays about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the holidays of Sukkot, Chanukah and Purim, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Diamant writes about being Jewish in a culture both Christian and secular and how she celebrates and understands Jewish (and non-Jewish) holidays. The essays are quite short but are full of insight and honesty. As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, she writes about Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the idea of memory as a sacred trust. Both this essay and the brief one in tribute to her father are poignant and nicely written.
Diamant also has collected essays on middle age but she ends the book with more discussion about religion in her life. She writes that Judaism is her "journey" and her "home" and that it is an "essential lens" through which she understands herself and her place in the world. But these final essays are not as solemn as the introduction to the section would have you believe. Here, Diamant addresses serious issues such as congregation politics and the expectancy that all Jews read Hebrew --- but she does so with a light and witty touch.
PITCHING MY TENT is not exactly a book about religion or family in general but about Diamant's family and her religious life. Her essays are insightful if not challenging or academic. This collection is a great gift idea for fans of Diamant, those who enjoy easy yet interesting reading, and especially for Jewish mothers. A personal look at contemporary Jewish life, PITCHING MY TENT will not generate controversy or create the kind of following that THE RED TENT had, but it won't disappoint those who are looking to learn more about this author.
--- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
The author of several books on contemporary Jewish life as well as her two popular fiction works, Diamant shares her classic essays with readers in this new publication.
Subtitled "On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith," the book promises much and delivers even more. Ms. Diamant draws the reader into her world with a personal invitation at the end of her introduction:
"My tent is filled with friends and songs and books and memories. My tent and I hope yours too, is filled with blessings. Come see."
Throughout these essays, the author's passion for life reaches out and beckons her readers to look within. By interjecting aspects of her Jewish life and customs into her essays, Ms. Diamant brings a higher degree of understanding to those unfamiliar with contemporary Jewish lifestyles. Her essays speak of tolerance, acceptance, enjoying life to its fullest, and counting blessings in each of life's passages.
Pitching My Tent is divided into six parts. Each section looks at an integral part of adult life and offers wonderfully enjoyable readings. My favorite essay is "Girlfriends, In Particular." Opening with a profound statement, Diamant's brief essay speaks volumes about the mystique and wonder of the bonds formed by women. "Women's friendships are, I think, one of the great secrets of the social universe." By the time I finished reading, I was so touched that I had to connect with my own dear friend and sister of my soul. It is the ability to stir such inner emotion that sets these essays apart from most I have read in recent months.
This book is a gift to give yourself, your friends, your sisters, your mothers, and any other woman whose life is somehow a blessing to yours.
by Lee Ambrose
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
Most recent customer reviews
Half-way through the book I thought, "Converting to Judaism might be a good...Read more