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Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging Paperback – May 29, 2012
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About the Author
R.A. Rycraft has published stories, poems, essays, reviews, and interviews in a number of journals and anthologies, including PIF Magazine, VerbSap, Perigee, MacGuffin, Calyx, Contemporary World Literature, Web del Sol, and The Absinthe Literary Review. Winner of the Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award for 2008 and a Special Mention for the 2010 Pushcart Prize, Rycraft is chair of the English department at Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee, California and nonfiction editor at Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts. Leslie What is a Nebula Award-winning writer and the author of a novel, Olympic Games, and two short story collections: Crazy Love and The Sweet and Sour Tongue. Crazy Love earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She currently teaches in the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension and is the fiction editor of Phantom Drift, a journal of New Fabulism. Her work has been published in a number of anthologies and journals, including Midstream, Utne Reader, Parabola, Los Angeles Review, Asimov’s, and others.
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Top Customer Reviews
It takes so long to learn to be a woman -- Ursula K. Le Guin
I am turning into the Chekhov play where the women stand at the window of their provincial outpost and pine for Moscow -- Laurie Stone
I sin so much harder now / knowing what I know -- Elisabeth Murawski
. . . it appears to me that the movement toward consciousness is the great challenge of our lives . . . -- Gladys Swan
. . . most of us, women at least, have lain / this way, with the heels of our feet in the metal / cups -- stirrups, not quite accurate, implying / we're the riders, when we're not . . . -- Laura McCullough
You were supposed to know the answers by the time you were thirty -- Valerie Miner
Isn't it the definition of a diary to be both that empty vessel seeking fulfillment and that handheld mirror reflecting a version of what already is? -- Alexandra Marshall
I've seen fewer wrinkles on raisins -- Leigh Anne Jasheway
Either this new jacket is surprisingly warm / or I'm having a heart attack -- Dorianne Laux
. . . I've been praying since I first got the call telling me my mother needed to be admitted to hospital. Let me, oh Lord, forget everything but compassion -- Lauren B. Davis
I have seen the enemy and she is me. Only she's not an enemy and I couldn't have seen her without my contacts plus the huge magnifying glass I keep by the phone book -- Molly Giles
So come on, gorgeous, get yourself over / to the shore with the sleeping gulls / -- does the tide rise or doesn't it -- Alicia Ostriker
Might Appreciation for the Moment be the alchemic formula . . . -- Ellen Visson
. . . three-dot ellipses remind us of mortality, by marking the vast spaces to either side of the several distinct movements that make up our lives -- Abby Frucht
In her introduction R.A. Rycraft states, "In our mind's eyes we are twenty-somethings, living life gifted with the knowledge and wisdom born of a more mature perspective, relieved of the heavy angst and narcissism of our teenage years." The reader can randomly open to any entry to find solace, and honesty from someone who inhabits a female body in a fragile world. Several women write about caring for aging mothers. Other women discuss their battles, or those of friends, with cancer. Some write about the ending of a relationship, or the death of parents, friends, even an adult child.
The contributions in this anthology cover a range of emotions from bittersweet, ironic or heartbreaking, to amusing, inspiring or comforting. The editors are wise enough to provide a balance by interspersing the sad pieces with humorous or reflective entries. Thus the reader can mourn shared losses with the author and then shift into another mood so the grief doesn't overwhelm.
As a cat lover I could identify with Gladys Swan's description of her childhood encounter with death when her cat died giving birth. She writes, "The rent her absence made in the fabric of things was beyond my comprehension, and my grief could not be assuaged." (20) As she explains the impact of this experience, "Death had entered the world and marked a before and after. It brought a certain paradox . . .opened up a mystery that never ceased to be." (21) Swan's essay is followed by Elisabeth Murawski's lyrical poem, "voyage to the end," with haiku like lines and then an essay by Leigh Anne Jasheway, "The Theory of Aging Relativity," which comments humorously that, "The more matter you accumulate as you age, the less it matters."
Possibly the most moving entry is Clare MacQueen's "The Fragrance of Levity" on the death of her 30 year old daughter from an unspecified cause although MacQueen suspects the abusive man in her daughter's life. She mentions a lovely memory of her very young daughter telling her, "I slid down from heaven on a rainbow into your tummy. I wanted you for my mommy."
Throughout the anthology, there are memorable words of healing insight that we contemplate like Zen koans. Several contributors write about the need to reinvent oneself in the midst of bodily changes, such as loss of breasts and acquisition of chin hairs, or during aloneness after the departure of partners or children. After finishing this anthology, I wanted to invite these women to a celebratory ritual for loving ourselves in the final stage of life. Even better perhaps I might find a kindred group of local women with whom to create a celebration of wise womanhood