Slow Emergencies

Nancy Huston, Author
Nancy Huston, Author Steerforth Press $19 (200p) ISBN 978-1-883642-63-1
Paperback - 210 pages - 978-0-375-70920-3
Hardcover - 237 pages - 978-1-55278-041-1
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Canadian-born Huston relocated permanently to Paris at age 20, married literary and cultural critic Tzvetan Todorov, raised two children and has published many nonfiction books and seven novels (Steerforth issued The Mark of the Angel here with fanfare last year) in her adopted as well as her native tongue. Her latest domestic release, already acclaimed in France as La Virevolte, chronicles the experiences of a woman torn between continents and between the competing passions of motherhood and artistry. In an unnamed New England town, dancer Lin Lhomond marries college professor Derek and bears two children, Angela and Marina. Though Lin adores her babies, she longs for the space and time her art requires. When she is offered the directorship of a dance company in Mexico, she sees an escape, divorcing Derek and leaving the girls in order to pursue her passion. Huston documents both Lin's rise as a renowned choreographer, in Mexico, Paris and London, and Derek, Angela and Marina's stunned attempts to make a life without her. Though he is still in love with his former wife, and the girls cannot forget their mother, Derek finally marries fellow professor Rachel, an old friend of Lin's. In spare, cinematic prose, leaping from character to character and across two decades, Huston follows the girls' progress as they grow up to become troubled adults. Lin, meanwhile, still racked with guilt over abandoning her children, faces a career-threatening injury. Huston's loose, often unpunctuated narrative reads fluidly, but her lyrical language, called upon to carry the tale, cannot quite bear its weight; the novel's associative monologues may have worked better in the original French. As it is, Huston produces a sensitive, sweeping account of the difficulty of reconciling maternal and artistic callings, a topic that begs for a more sustained and focused treatment. A long, enthusiastic blurb from Jeffrey Lent may draw attention to this title. (Jan. 6)
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