cover image The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life

The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life

Floyd Skloot, . . Univ. of Nebraska, $24.95 (231pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-1119-3

Skloot had been writing poetry for 20 years, short stories for 15, with three novels on the way, when he was struck with a brain disease that ravaged his memory. Fiction became impossible. Only memoir could help him reassemble his past; two he wrote in this phase, In the Shadow of Memory and A World of Light , have received great praise. This latest memoir moves away from the illness theme to explore what has made Skloot a writer, “the sort of person who could only deal with what happened to him by writing about it.” He first explores what he calls “external” influences forming him as a writer—the discovery that he could fulfill school writing assignments with his baseball mania, that his television heroes like Peter Gunn were cooler as observers than as doers, even that the rituals of cooking could bring comfort. Then he focuses on how his writerly sensibilities have shaped his life—from how he jogged listening “to hear the hidden cadence” to the way he communicated with his aging, memory-impaired mother through song. Skloot is such a fine writer that he can—and does—write about eating “baloney and eggs” and makes it seem fascinating. Writers at any stage of their careers will treasure this volume of clean, expressive prose that delights without ever showing off. (Sept.)