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The Sparkling-Eyed Boy: A Memoir of Love, Grown Up Paperback – May 12, 2004
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"The Sparkling-Eyed Boy is so full of color and light and life." -- Brad Land, author of Goat
The theme of summer love, in Amy Benson's hands, grows up: The Sparkling-Eyed Boy searches out the fault lines of adult nostalgia and desire. The achingly intense adolescent summer days that Amy Benson and the sparkling-eyed boy spend together on the remote shores of the St. Mary's River of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are at the complex emotional center of The Sparkling-Eyed Boy. For her, summers meant returning from her home in Detroit to a three-month idyll on much-loved family land, owned for generations, and to a heady culture of teasing, testing local boys. For him, this land is the place he was born, where he'll later find work, marry, and stay: and she was the one he had loved.
"Can you pinpoint that moment? When you made a choice before you even knew that choosing was possible, or the terrifying nature of choices?" The Sparkling-Eyed Boy, with its heart-stoppingly erotic -- and yet wholly imagined -- scenes of illicit love, its searching riffs on love as possession, love as pain, reads like a friend's deepest secrets, shared.
“The Sparkling-Eyed Boy is so full of color and light and life. This is truth of the most profound sort; truth revealed in the artful and lyrical sensibility of Benson’s words and memory. She is dancing with us: not leading, but simply asking us to watch her move and take what we will. Benson shows us here what the memoir can and should do — destroy and resurrect itself over and over. Benson is doing exactly that.” — Brad Land, author of Goat
“The great pleasure and triumph of this memoir is Amy Benson’s ability to make the familiar new again as she explores the country of first love. Over and over I found myself surprised by the unexpected twists and turns, peaks and abysses, of her journey. And also by her lovely, fiercely intelligent prose.” — Margot Livesey, author of Criminals
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- Publisher : Mariner Books; 0 edition (May 12, 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 061843321X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0618433216
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.44 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,747,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Finally, here are examples of the prose my mind kept becoming stuck on, truly brilliant writing that was as beautiful as the story being told.
"When you leave the place you will only later call home, you become, rather suddenly, though you might not know it for quite some time...like a fish without scales, the naked diamonds of its puckered skin flashing their ascent from the bottom to the air-choked top...like a flock of birds with pebble-filled bones--though the stones themselves may be quite lovely, the birds plummet toward the ground as if they had suddenly fallen in love with it. Once there, they will embrace it, wings wide and necks crooked in touchingly naive surprise...like a tiny country that can find itself on no map or atlas. It wonders, was it a dream? Those years of living and naming and fighting and crying. And the tales we tell of our headdresses and the ways we sing ourselves to sleep...like a river damned, swelling like a goiter, watching its sickly abdomen trail out the other side, raging under the pressure of itself upon itself, wishing for a pin a tooth an awl a tiny hole an eyelash crack...like a fish scaled...But the news is not all bad. Though you cannot rescale yourself, though you cannot go home, you may never know yourself better than when you are about to float, white on a streak of lake, breathing like a beast." [Pg. 3-4]
"The moon is the heart of the love of the world", I say from my dusty patch of grass next to my rented house in NJ...
"It wells in compassion, dries into a slivered ache, and wells again...Tonight I cannot say, Isn't it sad and funny and incontestable that we are piercing our eyes with streetlights and headlights and city lights and letting them bleed all over our sunken cheeks... Tonight I must put away irony because my heart is a sliver of an ache." [Pg. 17]
personal text-map as Billy Collins' poetry. Or imagine David Eggars
in his more lyrical moments. Benson manages to take plain language
and do wonderfully beautiful things with it. This is from the end,
"That is my problem: I have been looking shard by shard, but stand
back and I will have the whole, fluid mosaic. But I'm afraid there
is no perspective from which we can view every angle of a moment, a
year, a life, or the life of another. And there is no answer if I
have to answer the question myself."
Yikes! This hits exactly right! When I am at a loss for words, the
best I can do is quote from people much more skilled with language.
Benson has given me a lot to say. :-)
This is a 'small' but big book, read it carefully. This is not to
say that it's difficult to read, more that the prose has subtle
but significant power. Maybe my sense of this comes with particular
resonances with my own life -- I also recall midwestern lake summers --
but Benson makes these personal memories relevant in a way that should
intersect with anyone reading her book. It's most worthy of the
Katharine Nason Prize. I'm really looking forward to reading
Benson's future work.