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Beauty Before Comfort: A Memoir

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Beauty Before Comfort: A Memoir Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“The first lesson [my grandmother] ever taught me was that dancing matters. . . . When she did come across men she fancied who didn’t dance, she sent them away until they did. They always learned, because my grandmother was bitingly beautiful, and that is the second lesson she taught me—that beauty inspires, all of God’s beauty, but especially hers.”

So writes Allison Glock at the start of her irresistible memoir of her maternal grandmother, Aneita Jean Blair, a woman who came of age during the Depression in a West Virginia factory town yet refused to succumb to the desperation that surrounded her. Instead, Aneita Jean rouged her cheeks and kicked up her heels and did

her best to forget the realities of life in an in-sular community where your neighbors could be

as unforgiving as the Appalachian landscape. Before it was all over, Aneita Jean would have seven marriage proposals and her share of the tragedies that befall small-town girls with bushels of suitors and bodies like Miss America, girls “who dare to see past the dusty perimeters of their lives.”

In lyrical and often breathtaking language, Glock travels back through time, assisted by a fistful of old photos and the piercing childhood memories of her grandmother, “a skinny, eager child with disobedient hair and bottomless

longing.” Together they guide us through the cramped dankness of the pottery plants, the dense sweetness of the holler, and into the surging promise of the Ohio River, capturing not only the irrepressible vitality of Aneita Jean Blair, but also the rich ambiance of working-class West Virginia during the twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. Expertly written, lovingly told, Beauty Before Comfort is stirring testimony to the vanished dreams, and powerful spirit, of an extraordinary person and place.

Review:

"Allison Glock's multi-layered memoir manages to call the reader's attention to several things simultaneously. Its refrain is the implicit analogy between the making of pottery in pre-World War II West Virginia, and the way one's consciousness is shaped by place, as well as by desire and destiny. Beauty, itself, is one of the book's subjects, which is also expressed — apparently in a line of direct descent — in the author's quite beautiful writing." Ann Beattie

Review:

"This is a funny, tender, searing — and uniquely honest — take on one woman's life. It's also a portrait of a generation. Not to mention a meditation on our stories, how they echo, and what those echoes mean." Colum McCann

Review:

"Beauty Before Comfort is wise and passionate, wiseass and sorrowful all at the same time — just like Aneita Jean Blair, the unforgettable heroine at its center. Her story, about a girl whose dreams are bigger than the place that holds her and the life she is destined to lead, is a familiar one and it never fails to break the heart. What's different here, what changes everything, is the way Allison Glock tells that story. You can hear traces of the ache and beauty of rural West Virginia in her voice and she sneaks so gracefully in and out of her grandmother's history you forget she's writing at all. You can't help but lose yourself in this memorable life and in this lonely, lovely place and in this remarkable book." Michael Knight

Review:

"Allison Glock makes it look easy. Her memoir of her sexy, spirited grandmother (a sort of Appalachian Emma Bovary, but with a sense of humor) is a perfectly told and perfectly written American story. I can't remember the last time I met a woman in print who became as real to me as young Aneita Jean Blair — a girl so heartbreaking, so wild, so vividly rendered into flesh that you can almost feel yourself inside her body, sashaying down her Depression-era factory-town street in her tightest dress, turning every man's head while yearning so desperately to be transported into some glamorous other world. An unforgettable portrait." Elizabeth Gilbert

About the Author

Allison Glock is thirty-three years old and lives in New Jersey with her family.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375401213
Publisher:
Random House
Location:
New York
Author:
Glock, Allison
Subject:
General
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
Women
Subject:
History
Subject:
Regional Subjects - South
Subject:
Childhood Memoir
Subject:
Company towns
Subject:
Newell
Subject:
Ceramics factories
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
NASA/TM-2001-211027
Publication Date:
April 29, 2003
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.54x5.74x.76 in. .83 lbs.

Related Subjects

Biography » General

Beauty Before Comfort: A Memoir
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 208 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780375401213 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Allison Glock's multi-layered memoir manages to call the reader's attention to several things simultaneously. Its refrain is the implicit analogy between the making of pottery in pre-World War II West Virginia, and the way one's consciousness is shaped by place, as well as by desire and destiny. Beauty, itself, is one of the book's subjects, which is also expressed — apparently in a line of direct descent — in the author's quite beautiful writing."
"Review" by , "This is a funny, tender, searing — and uniquely honest — take on one woman's life. It's also a portrait of a generation. Not to mention a meditation on our stories, how they echo, and what those echoes mean."
"Review" by , "Beauty Before Comfort is wise and passionate, wiseass and sorrowful all at the same time — just like Aneita Jean Blair, the unforgettable heroine at its center. Her story, about a girl whose dreams are bigger than the place that holds her and the life she is destined to lead, is a familiar one and it never fails to break the heart. What's different here, what changes everything, is the way Allison Glock tells that story. You can hear traces of the ache and beauty of rural West Virginia in her voice and she sneaks so gracefully in and out of her grandmother's history you forget she's writing at all. You can't help but lose yourself in this memorable life and in this lonely, lovely place and in this remarkable book."
"Review" by , "Allison Glock makes it look easy. Her memoir of her sexy, spirited grandmother (a sort of Appalachian Emma Bovary, but with a sense of humor) is a perfectly told and perfectly written American story. I can't remember the last time I met a woman in print who became as real to me as young Aneita Jean Blair — a girl so heartbreaking, so wild, so vividly rendered into flesh that you can almost feel yourself inside her body, sashaying down her Depression-era factory-town street in her tightest dress, turning every man's head while yearning so desperately to be transported into some glamorous other world. An unforgettable portrait."
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