Saturday, February 18, 2012
This Book Will Change Your Life - SOLACE in So Many Words Edited by Ellen Wade Beals.
Struck we are that solace is a tricky thing to articulate as we seek to define it, illuminate it and ultimately try to capture it in the written word with the idea that someone will read it knowing to some extent what our intent is. Are we asking the writer to focus on how we find solace or why we need it? Is the mere act of absorbing oneself in stories and poems fraught with pain, the discovery of it, trying to make sense of it, managing it and ultimately making peace with it a kind of solace in and of itself? We're not sure we have any answers to these questions, but it would be impossible not to lose oneself in these questions and all the permutations contained therein as one reads SOLACE in So Many Words edited by Ellen Wade Beals, which is often times moving, and very often sad, sad to us anyway, and something which is tricky in its own way as well. As readers and consumers of art, and not just writing, though it is always first and foremost about writing regardless, we are drawn to joy and ebullience, but it is pain and sadness that we are most likely to lose ourselves in, hence even with a collection such as this which uniformly achieves its goals, no minor accomplishment that, and is filled with fine writing, it is the stories that are most painful to us that linger, A Strange Episode of Aqua Voyage by Joe Meno, because we are fans certainly, but also because he writes about confusion and isolation as well as anyone, Details by Joan Corwin, whose piece on aging hit close to home in ways we would not have anticipated, Stops and Starts by Kathleene Donahoo, which frankly left us briefly paralyzed at points, Alleys by Michael Constantine McConell, a slice of childhood that just hums with life and Heartbeat by J. Scott Smith which is at times crippling and other times triumphant. Which in its own way we suppose is as good a description of this collection as any we could have hoped to come up with otherwise.