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Florence in Words

Reading A Life in Motion

Surprise: a normal sunny Sunday, with no snow indicated. I can see the small trees on my terrace once again, standing tall, even looking a bit refreshed. Can that be true? Will they survive this winter like no other in the seven years I’ve lived here? And what will February and March be like? After all, for years they have been New York City’s snowy months.

Weather aside, I am happy to share a few remarks from friends, who have gotten early copies of my books directly from the Feminist Press website. I don’t mean the blurbs, which you can read for yourself. I am referring to the comments—usually of surprise—from friends who “didn’t know” this or that about me. Mostly, it’s the dreadful deaths of members of my family, my time in hospital as a child, and the marriages. So many marriages….

I’m charmed that some of my friends are reading my book in no order. They are reading sections about Tillie Olsen or Grace Paley first, then about my living New York friends. One person told me she read the chapter on my mother’s Alzheimer’s first and wanted to give it to someone she knew whose mother was in early stages.

One friend wanted to know about the “form” of my book. And after explaining that it was a “mixed” form, I finally said something helpful: some of the chapters are chronologically horizontal—as in a history; and some of the chapters are chronologically vertical—as in an essay. So, for example, a group of chapters describe the 40-year history of the Feminist Press, and you may want to read them in sequence. On the other hand, you can freely skip around into the vertically-organized histories of my relationships with Tillie, Grace, Elaine Hedges, or my father, just to name a few examples.
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