Approaching Eye Level

Vivian Gornick, Author
Vivian Gornick, Author Beacon Press (MA) $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7090-1
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8070-7091-8
Ebook - 172 pages - 978-0-8070-7036-9
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Apparently Gornick writes only when she has something to say (Fierce Attachments was published in 1988), with the result that readers may not be conversant with her output of honed observations and unflinching conclusions. She is a New Yorker through and through. No place else in the country, or on the globe for that matter, nurtures her need for contact, variety and pure, random amazement. ""The street,"" she tells us, ""does for me what I cannot do for myself. On the street nobody watches, everyone performs."" Everyone, that is, but Gornick. She watches a man and woman arguing on Ninth Avenue near the bus station; knowing nothing of the causes or the results of the situation becomes a part of the happening: ""She too has New York kinky hair. For the moment that's comradeship enough."" But there's more to these seven original essays than a hymn to Manhattan. There is also exploration of that most brutal and unconquerable of human sorrows, loneliness. One can learn more about the human soul from ""On Living Alone"" than can be absorbed on a first encounter. ""Loneliness was me cut off from myself. Loneliness was the thing nothing out there could cure."" Without even a flicker of self-pity, these short pieces bear rereading many times. Author tour. (Sept.)
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