THE WRITING LIFE

Ellen Gilchrist, Author . Univ. Press of Mississippi $28 (211p) ISBN 978-1-57806-739-8

In this collection of wry and poised autobiographical essays, most previously unpublished, National Book Award winner Gilchrist (Victory over Japan , etc.) is disarmingly direct in evoking herself as a trapped young wife and mother who returned to college, studied under Eudora Welty and became involved in the New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss., during the civil rights era, a turning point in her eventual "escape from the bourgeoisie." She writes frankly and without self-loathing about overcoming alcoholism, and reflects on the powerful influence of her disciplined, sporty father, drawing analogies between tennis and writing, coaching and teaching. She tells of writing her first published book of stories, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, in three months and of how its publication coincided with the birth of her first grandchild. Affording insights into her writing process, including the necessary evil of letting down friends and family in order to put writing first, Gilchrist's droll, optimistic and seasoned voice is irresistible. A final series of pithy essays focuses on her adaptation to academia late in life; she enthralls with witty, tender observations of her writing students' progress. Gilchrist's love of life, her tireless work ethic and her self-assured sense of fun and folly shine in this vital and inspiring collection. Agent, Susan Ramer of Don Congdon and Assoc. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 179 pages - 978-1-60473-035-7
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