Saturday, April 17, 2010
I'm very excited to share the first review that's appeared on my memoir, Pieces of Someday, which was published in January. Greg Wolfe, who wrote the review, is highly respected, so his praise means a lot to me. He is the founder and editor of IMAGE, a leading literary quarterly, directs the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Seattle Pacific University and has served as a judge for the National Book Awards. He has published many books and essays. His interest is what he calls the intersection of faith and art, so that's the angle he focuses on in the review. Here is the text:
Pieces of Someday by Jan Vallone
Memoir is a literary form that is an endless source of controversy. Some consider it inherently narcissistic while others argue that it will replace the novel as the primary form of serious literary prose. But there is one point that many people can agree upon: the rise of memoir as an art form has demonstrated that it isn't the fame of the author--or her wild adventures or bizarre life experiences--that makes for a good story. Rather, great memoirs are characterized by the quality of their attention to the universal, quotidian experiences of human life--and the honest, courageous exploration of the self, proverbial warts and all. By this measure, Jan Vallone's memoir, Pieces of Someday, is a wonderful addition to the literature. A New York Italian-American with a complicated relationship to her father, Vallone ignores her early artistic impulses to adopt her father's profession--the law. Marriage, a vintage house, and worldly success follow, but prove inadequate. Vallone's struggles with infertility and her decision to adopt, her growing frustration with lawyering and her mid-life shift to teaching literature and creative writing in an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva, turn her world upside down. Teaching and children provide her with a deep sense of fulfillment but come with their own griefs, tensions, and uncertainties. And then faith makes an entrance, in the form of her return to the Catholic Church she has known and not-known throughout her life. As Vallone's memoir opens, she's sitting in church, wondering about her life. A childhood friend has told her that life is a circle; her father made her feel that it is a linear path. But sitting in the pew she decides that it is more like stained glass: "composed of bits of translucency and opacity--fragments of yesterday, chips of today, pieces of someday, soldered with time. Some jewel-like and whole. Some fractured by the weather.... Only fusion and repair complete the image and allow us to make out the picture." Vallone's narrative gift--by turns lyrical, funny, and raw--combined with her newfound awareness of grace provide the "fusion and repair" that renders a life whole and meaningful. Read about her life and gain new insight into yours.
You can sign up for Image Update--a great resource--here: http://imagejournal.org/imageupdate/192_100414.html
at 12:12 PM