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What She Was Saying Paperback – March 1, 2017
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"What She Was Saying shows Maddox as a masterful and insightful storyteller..."-NewPages
"....What She Was Saying is all at once difficult to read and hard to turn away. Maddox puts words to the things we think or conjure without proof, sometimes with only the slightest of revelations. These stories bring to light the inner person, the humanity of us and displays how we may honor or dismiss them altogether. Haunting, yet strangely encouraging, I would urge the reading of these stories - they shed light on the human condition, the story of one's life, and the cry to handle each with care" --Janna Lynas at Englewood Review of Books
RECOMMENDED by US Review of Books: "Maddox has a gift forrecapitulating the uncomfortable nitty gritty of life's circumstances as if it [were] common everyday language. . . .A definite read for thosewho are looking for an honest portrayal of life" -Anita Lock
"...Maddox's exploration. . .[is] stunning. . . .These stories do whatgood stories do, they promote empathy and understanding, which issomething we could all use more of"-TTC
What She Was Saying, a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Award, delves into memory and desire, loss and longing, and the unexpected pathos of the commonplace. In these finely-wrought stories, Marjorie Maddox reveals the complex space between the spoken and the glimpsed unspoken in the lives of women....undeniably a vital and compelling collection. Her stories, full of humor and heartbreak, absurdity and terror, offer a window into the unarticulated lives of women -Marcela Fuentes at Mom Egg Review
From the ingenious title to the last story, What She Was Saying is a study of the gap between the covert and the overt. Alienation, isolation, desperation are here writ both small and large; their echo is a humanistic plea for inclusiveness, community, friendship, and simple love and kindness, one to another. Wonderfully crafted, honest, and bold, Marjorie Maddox's work always brings her readers to new levels of perceptiveness about the big picture as well as minute moments. --Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and The Fountain of St. James Court, or Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman
This collection reveals a beguiling new voice in contemporary fiction. . . . Maddox s stories open up unexpected, little noticed corners of our world. . . . Some read like fables; some surprise with bold humor. All celebrate the mystery of the familiar, the strangeness of the ordinary, and the humanity of marginal lives. --Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
These are luscious stories, packed with unflinching honesty and the earthshaking kind of beauty that makes us brave. --Fiona Cheong, author of Scent of the Gods and Shadow Theatre
About the Author
Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Marjorie Maddox has published eleven collections of poetry—including True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series); Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock); Weeknights at the Cathedral (WordTech Editions); Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); and Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—and over 500 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Co-editor with Jerry Wemple of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Penn State Press), she also has published the following children’s and middle-grade books: A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry, Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems, A Man Named Branch: The True Story of Baseball’s Great Experiment, and Inside Out: Poems on Writing Poems. She is the great grandniece of Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson.
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Sky Divers, beware in a world where the unforeseen shows up “in the guise of wind “and dumps a parachute’s invisible freight!
UPS Guys, know this: The multiperspectivalism of a neighborhood renders you, The Man in Brown, as many things to many people.
People of faith: Understand that the Bible’s spare narrative may not intend to convey vulnerability, but it is there between the lines, waiting to be discerned so that the disappointment of Peter’s wife or the desperation of Lot’s daughters can be mined in Flannery-esque prose that does not blink at unpleasant truth.
As I turned the pages of What She Was Saying and listened to the voices of a returning soldier, a teenage beauty queen, and a ninety-three year old with twenty birthday cakes in her freezer, I was reminded with poignancy that much of what I “write off” among my fellow travelers on this narrow path is really their way of seeking community.
As I traced themes of parenting and childlessness, baseball and racial reconciliation, aging and the nature of beauty, I was surprised to observe that controversial issues are hardly ever linear, but instead come stacked like Matryoshka dolls, one inside the other, with the unexpected finding that the biggest argument may inhabit the smallest space.
What She Was Saying (and a polar fleece blanket) were the perfect companions for an afternoon of babysitting a napping grandson with a nasty cold — and also for an infusion of fresh vocabulary and exposure to a writing style that opens my mind to new possibilities. Reading between the lines, I’m finding myself even more grateful for nearly twenty-seven years with a patient man who has always been willing to hear What [this woman] Was Saying — even in the days when there was no time for writing it down.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The book begins with a poem by the author, and a poet’s attention to language is evident throughout. Maddox is a well-published poet, essayist, and writer of short stories, but poetry is her first language, and her stories are rich with it. Catholic faith is also an important element in some of the stories, always presented in a way that is accessible to non-Catholic readers. Respect for readers’ ability to understand what isn’t said or overtly explained is evident in the way these stories leave readers weighing each voice’s understanding against their own.
These stories are short, but not easy, reads. The intensity of the emotional experience in each makes this a book that should not be read all in one sitting, even if a reader is tempted to do so; each story should be savored on its own and considered afterwards…or discussed with other thoughtful readers.