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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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“The writing of Terry Tempest Williams is brilliant, meditative, and full of surprises, wisdom, and wonder. She's one of those writers who changes peoples' lives by encouraging attention and a slow, patient awakening.” ―Anne Lamott, author of Imperfect Birds
“Much more than a brave and luminous memoir, When Women Were Birds is a set of blueprints for building one of America's most impassioned and audacious writers, as well as a transcript of the moment when she stepped determinedly into the full power of her own voice. In Terry's magical equation, rage + confusion + grief + accountability = love. At some point I realized I was reading every page twice trying to memorize each insight, each bit of hard-won wisdom. Then I realized I could keep it on my bedside table and read it every night.” ―Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
“Somehow, miraculously, Terry Tempest Williams has done it again: written a book that no one else could have, that tells the truth about our lives. If you want to understand how a writer finds her voice, read this gorgeous book.” ―Sue Halpern, author of Can't Remember What I Forgot
“When Women Were Birds is a wise and beautiful and intelligent book, written for the women, men, and children of our times. It vibrates with the earned honesty of a great soul. It is a gift, passed on to readers with the same spirit of love and generosity with which it was first given to the author by her mother. A remarkable journey, a remarkable story.” ―Rick Bass, author of The Wild Marsh
“Williams narrates stories that range wide and run deep . . . Here, readers get a Terry Tempest Williams who is at the top of her game, the master of her craft . . . a gift from a writer who knows how to split the world open.” ―Cheryl Strayed, Orion
About the Author
Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, Refuge, and, most recently, Finding Beauty in a Broken World. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.
Top customer reviews
Her feminist views come through clearly throughout the book, paying specific attention to women's voices and their roles in the goings-on of the world. As a young woman I take inspiration from her passages on female empowerment and individuality. The couple of sections featuring the female body felt especially important, and necessary given the problems so many women experience with self-confidence and body image. Rather than address these issues head-on, Williams describes the creative powers of women and the beauty of feminine capabilities, ultimately using feminist ideals not to compare women to men, but to define woman as a wholly-independent being full of potential.
Anecdotes ranging from rural Africa to the wilderness of Utah take the reader across the world and Williams' fascinating experiences within it. Above all, Terry Tempest Williams writes as a role model, advocating for women and their voices while attempting to decode her own mother's apparent lack of voice, as evidenced through the chilling central question: why blank journals?
"Silence introduced in a society that worships noise is like the Moon exposing the night."
"Write the word. Word by word, the language of women so often begins with a whisper."
Etc, etc. I loved every word of this book. And it is such a pretty little book.
And what I love most: this book is like reading journal entries written by one of the wisest, most weathered/mysterious, curious, nature-loving, interesting, beautiful, honest women you know.