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1 Beaverton Nature Studies- Natural History

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice


When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice Cover

ISBN13: 9780374288976
ISBN10: 0374288976
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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KEB, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by KEB)
Terry Tempest Williams compassionately and unflinchingly examines her relationship with her mother through contemplations on her mother's journals. The shelves of journals that her mother left to her were all blank. Each of the 54 short chapters is a variation on voice -- and also the age of her mother when she died. Beautifully written.
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Neil Reid, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Neil Reid)
What voice do you speak into an empty space? What voice do you hear? These are not shallow questions. You'll here discover the meaning both literal and figurative about blank pages in a book. Never have I seen, nor read, blank pages with so much meaning as here begins this quest of a book by Terry Tempest Williams. You want to touch them with your fingertips, sense the possibilities, the strength of words unwritten, the power of imagination implied. This was in part the legacy left to her by a mother now passed away, yet whose imprint is unmistakable in the spirit of relationship, mother to daughter. Here traced and burrowed and poetically ladled is Ms. Williams journey to answer that question. She thought she knew what to expect, yet now finds that path requires rediscovery. Ultimately coming to the question, what living voice of hers is there to speak into this same seeming emptiness? Here is a sky filled with wings!
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Kelly Portland, October 16, 2012 (view all comments by Kelly Portland)
Every time I read a Terry Tempest Williams book I slow down, listen to her voice resonating from the page. It is a warm and resolute voice. Words matter, the world matters. And if words matter, how will she find meaning in the blank pages of her mother’s journals? (Read the book!) I was moved by her search. It is personal, but connected to so many women’s stories. WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS is a meaningful exploration, a celebration.
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Katie Boehnlein, August 11, 2012 (view all comments by Katie Boehnlein)
I was lucky enough to see Terry Tempest Williams read excerpts from her new book, When Women Were Birds, at Powells in June. When I read the book myself, her voice resounded in my mind as I read each and every on of her words. The same voice that wrote Refuge, Terry always expertly makes powerful connections between the natural world and our own lives. Sometimes heartbreakingly personal in her writing, this book is no exception. Terry struggles with the concept of voice, especially the voice of her mother, which was silenced after her death. This tone of this book is definitely more painful than her other's, but no less genius. If you are a Terry Tempest Williams fan, or even just a fan of lyrical and beautiful writing, then this is a must-read!
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a_book_a_day_keeps_the_doctor_away, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by a_book_a_day_keeps_the_doctor_away)
Terry Tempest Williams has written a highly personal, poetic account of her late mother's "journals." She also ruminates on what it means to be a woman, and a human being. I also enjoyed her description of when she met her husband.
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Product Details

Fifty-four Variations on Voice
Williams, Terry Tempest
Williams, Terry Tempest
Edition Description:
Trade Paper with Flaps
Publication Date:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
3 Black-and-White Illustrations
7.875 x 5.5 in

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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374288976 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Williams, the sensitive author of Refuge, is shocked to discover her deceased mother's unwritten memoirs — shelves worth of blank pages. Under such unpromising circumstances commences a kaleidoscopic celebration and palimpsest — all metaphorical cliches but apt — on finding a voice and woman's identity beyond the silenced, selfless existence informed by children and a husband — even a family brimming with love. The empty pages of a journal manifest a hermeneutics of suspicion: the white upon which to project a lifelong journey of self-discovery. In 54 meditations (one for each year of her mother's life, and of Williams's life to date), we learn about an unusual (patriarchal) Mormon background and an upbringing that included a season of homeschooling in Hawaii, encounters with a husband-and-wife team of John Bircher's while teaching high school biology , a job at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the meeting of her future mate over a discussion of books and birds. Among deep influences are Nobel Peace Prize-winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai; Helene Cixous; Clarice Lispector; the secret-women's language of China...and the soaring operas of Richard Strauss. 'If a man knew what a woman never forgets, he would love her differently,' Williams declares in her bighearted, deliberative hymn: old themes newly warbled. Agent: Carl Brandt, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "The writing of Terry Tempest Williams is brilliant, meditative, and full of surprises, wisdom, and wonder. She's one of those writers who changes people's lives by encouraging attention and a slow, patient awakening."
"Review" by , "Much more than a brave and luminous memoir, When Women Were Birds is a set of blueprints for building one of Americas most impassioned and audacious writers, as well as a transcript of the moment when she stepped determinedly into the full power of her own voice. In Terry's magical equation, rage + confusion + grief + accountability = love. At some point I realized I was reading every page twice trying to memorize each insight, each bit of hard-won wisdom. Then I realized I could keep it on my bedside table and read it every night."
"Review" by , "Somehow, miraculously, Terry Tempest Williams has done it again: written a book that no one else could have, that tells the truth about our lives. If you want to understand how a writer finds her voice, read this gorgeous book."
"Review" by , "When Women Were Birds is a wise and beautiful and intelligent book, written for the women, men, and children of our times. It vibrates with the earned honesty of a great soul. It is a gift, passed on to readers with the same spirit of love and generosity with which it was first given to the author by her mother. A remarkable journey, a remarkable story."
"Review" by , "Williams narrates stories that range wide and run deep...Here, readers get a Terry Tempest Williams who is at the top of her game, the master of her craft...a gift from a writer who knows how to split the world open.
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