Book Review: Sandra Gail Lambert’s “A Certain Loneliness”

 by Annette Davis

In her touching memoir of life as a disabled lesbian, Sandra Gail Lambert probes the issue of what quality of life really means. Throughout the series of short essays, Lambert takes the reader on a journey from the author’s childhood, where we learn Lambert is stricken with polio, to an adult struggling to maintain her independence in the face of the disease that wracks her body with pain and limitations. In equal parts, the memoir is a story of self-love and the search for Lambert’s one true love—a life partner.

With fierce determination and unwavering mental strength, Lambert refuses to give up the activities and joys of her life. She describes her love of the water, from her days swimming in a pool as a child to her favorite pastime of kayaking on the Okefenokee Swamp and the Florida Bay in her adult years. Lambert explains all the contortions she goes through just to do daily activities as her body continues to fail her. In a particularly moving scene, she fights to keep close to the water, grappling with how to get in and out of the kayak from her wheelchair without help from others.

As Lambert ages, her physical limitations are explained in colorful detail. Lambert describes the accommodation she makes, from crutches to an electric wheelchair. She gains the reader’s sympathy as she reveals what being disabled truly means: the pain; the need for help to do basic things like bathe and open doors; the doubt, fear, and insecurity about the future. Lambert paints a clear picture of the decline in her health in juxtaposition to her fierce fight to maintain her mobility. With each setback her body inflicts on her, Lambert rebounds with a new strategy for navigating her life.

While surrounded by friends who see beyond Lambert’s limitations, her search for love still leaves her lonely. Her quest for a partner is marred by misunderstanding and misplaced values initially. But as the story advances, Lambert finds solace in single life as exemplified in the moment when she watches the sunrise alone as she paddles through the water. In this moment of joy, the reader knows that hope is not lost.

Lambert has a lyrical quality to her writing, describing the various rivers she navigates in her kayak with a visual crispness, transporting the reader to each place in a sensorial way.

Lambert’s memoir is a triumph of will over illness. She leaves the reader not pitying Lambert for her condition, but marveling at her indomitable spirit.

 

Annette Davis breathes words like air. A writer, teacher, and MFA candidate, she is also a proud mother to two amazing adults and two crazy cats.

Black Mirrors

By Liz Betz

Just for a split second I can picture my grossly overweight cousin. Perhaps he fell so that he ended like a large sack of potatoes draped over a small tractor moored in green—dead weight.

“What good he was doing is another thing,” Rachel says. “At least he managed to get the lawn mower turned off, before he died.”

I watch my crow Petey take off from the tree outside the window while I thirstily quaff water. There is a stack of wet dishes in the sink. It’s five in the afternoon and these are breakfast dishes, perhaps the only thing Rachel has done today. It feels like I’ve spent a million moments like this, waiting for some reason to endure.

Read More

Age of Loneliness

BY: AUDRA LORD

This is an age of loneliness. This is what I’m thinking on the bus during my morning commute. I’m surrounded by a seawall of slack, blank faces, the impassive slate of cliffs. Nobody says a word; they just gaze into the cups of their palms, thirsty for plastic wisdom and blinky emoticons, which have mostly replaced emotions. Even liking something nowadays is a deliberate act.

Everyone is lost in the magic of tiny screens, wrapped in private thought bubbles, protected from the silence by noise-canceling earbuds, selecting the clatter of podcasts or the hum of iTunes over the warm body in the next seat. Their faces are still, but their fingers are industrious: it’s a factory of people engaged in the same repetitive swipes, clicks and taps, over and over and over again.

Aside from the tapping, nobody makes a sound.

Read More

TCR Talks with Keithan Jones and Amber Tillman

BY:  A.M. Larks AND A.E. Santana

While many may think of comics as superhero-kid stuff, the comic book business is an immense global industry—reaching a huge and diverse audience. In 2017, North American sales totaled over $1 billion. Whether it’s a classic comic book or a graphic novel, the combination of words and images need to work in perfect harmony to tell a story.

What is the process of a harmonic collaboration between author and artist? TCR contributors A. E. Santana and A. M. Larks talk to both sides of this equation: creator and artist of “The Power Knights” and owner and founder of Kid Comics, Keithan Jones, and Amber Tillman, author and creator of Medicine Cabinet, about developing comics as either the artist or writer, and just how this harmony is achieved.

Read More

Jared Sampson’s Mom

 by Dallas Woodburn

CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)

GRACE:A college student and the play’s main character/narrator                 YOUNG JARED SAMPSON: A typical eighth-grade boy—not a dork, but not particularly cool either.
JASMINE:Grace’s roommate, also a college student. Self-absorbed and showy.
SASHA:Grace’s roommate. An art student in college.
JARED SAMPSON’S MOM:An attractive, pleasant middle-aged woman wearing bright red lipstick and flower-patterned capri pants.
YOUNG HENRIETTA:Grace’s best friend in eighth grade.
YOUNG GRACE:A typical eighth-grade girl—pretty, well-liked, but not one of the fashionable popular girls.
YOUNG JARED’S FRIENDS:Two or thre eighth-grade boys.
SCOTT:A college student. Grace’s boyfriend.
BECKY:A college student. Scott’s friend. Pretty and flirtatious.

SETTING:An apartment shared by three college girls. Center stage is a couch, perhaps also a coffee table littered with magazines, textbooks, empty water glasses, an empty take-out container or two. The apartment is not filthy but has a lived-in feeling to it.
Downstage right is a chair and table, representing a desk. This is GRACE’s bedroom. There may also be a poster on the wall, books and papers scattered on the desk, and a lamp.
Downstage left is an empty chair. This represents the area in GRACE’s imaginings and memories: where SCOTT will appear, in addition to memories with YOUNG GRACE, YOUNG JARED, and JARED SAMPSON’S MOM. To further differentiate GRACE’s memories from the present, the remembered scenes and imagined characters always appear here in a spotlight rather than full lighting.

Lights come up on the entire stage. GRACE is half-sitting, half-leaning against the front of the desk in her bedroom. Nothing is between her and the audience. She addresses the audience directly with her opening monologue.

Read More

TCR Talks with David Ulin

BY: Heather Scott Partington

David Ulin’s The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time was rereleased this fall with a new introduction and afterword that speak to our contentious political climate. Ulin–critic, author, and ruminator in the best sense of the word–reframes his 2010 argument for the role of books in 2018’s dysfunction, fake news, and fractured narrative. Can reading save us? Ulin isn’t sure, but he sees value in resisting cynicism.

The author spoke recently with critic Heather Scott Partington by email about the value of engagement with the written word: an “empathy machine” and our “ongoing human conversation.”

Read More

Book Review: Dallas Woodburn’s “Woman, Running Late, in a Dress”

BY A.M. Larks

Dallas Woodburn’s debut collection of stories, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress, is characterized as interwoven stories, interlinked stories, and, in her own words, “a short story cycle.”

A short story cycle is a curious beast. It is the narwhal of the literary world, a being so odd the Internet could have made it up. But narwhals and short story cycles do exist, and both are rare.

Read More

Watching Over

BY: Rishitha Shetty                                            

Daaru tasted love in the first bite of fish. So much so, that when little Kumara pinched an ant between his fingers and brought it to his lips, she did not notice. She crunched on, her tongue sucking river off of its burnt tail. She preferred the fish from the river Netravati to that of the sea; its delicious stink stayed on her palm for days. Mother Netravati bled into boulders every year during monsoon and her wrath flowed out of the soggy flesh of dead things, and this was the first catch after the rains; she mixed juice and love and placed them between bones.

Read More

TCR Talks with Gloria Harrison

By: Jaime Stickle

My introduction to Gloria Harrison was the short film Let’s See How Fast This Baby Will Go, based on her essay of the same title, first published by The Nervous Breakdown. It is the true story of a nineteen-year-old woman in labor, on the verge of giving away her baby, who first stops to buy a car. That woman is Gloria.

Gloria Harrison is a storyteller whose work has appeared on The Nervous Breakdown, This American Life, The Weeklings, Fictionaut, Other People with Brad Listi podcast, The Manifest Station, and Sweatpants and Coffee. In January 2017, a short film adaptation of her story that appeared on This American Life, “Let’s See How Fast This Baby Will Go,” was released by Australian director Julietta Boscolo. It is currently playing at film festivals around the world.

Read More

Book Review: Kristi Coulter’s “Nothing Good Can Come From This”

By Charli Engelhorn

If there was a warning label on the cover of Kristi Coulter’s debut book of essays, Nothing Good Can Come from This, it might read, “This book will cause you to interrogate your life, habits, and doctrines and challenge any previous assessments made about your relationship with alcohol.” That is not to say Coulter’s essays presume to convince the reader of a closeted drinking problem; rather, her heart-rendering prose ladled with sardonic wit create a rumination on the mundane persistence of time, the dichotomy of who we are and who we pretend to be, and the nature of society and compromises required therein, which, if one is not careful, can accumulate into addiction. With a quick and often dark cadence, Coulter weaves her essays to create a remarkable story about the unremarkableness of her journey to sobriety, not in the feat itself, but in the banal scenarios that led to her drinking and decision to stop. There is no melodrama infused in the stories of her alcoholism or sobriety, no sensationalism about addiction, no wringing hands or desperate pleas to the gods. As Coulter explains, after years of massages, yoga, therapists, and other attempts to trick her into wanting to quit, she woke up one day and realized, “what I wanted was no longer important. I would just have to wait and hope that eventually I would want something else.”

Read More

Page 1 of 10

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén