For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors

Laura Esther Wolfson. Univ. of Iowa, $19.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-60938-581-1
Wolfson debuts with an enjoyable collection that serves as both exploration of and experiment in language, as well as a globe-trotting memoir. The experiences she relates include the all-too-relatable one of working mundane jobs that fall far beneath expectations, the comical interactions one has communicating in a foreign language, and the difficulties of living with a serious illness. Discussing multilingual relationships, she describes the pleasure she takes in being able to “engage publicly in secret exchanges of all kinds,” as she does with her Russian-speaking first husband in the New York City subway. Wolfson’s prose is beautiful and evocative of her travels; of Montmartre she writes: “Scraps of time and history become trapped in the interstices of the alleys and buildings, and slowly they yield up their fragrance.” Her reflections upon personal topics, including her divorce and her battle with a degenerative lung disease, articulate how people cope with unforeseen struggles and strike a balance of provoking thought but not overwhelming readers. Fans of the essay form, travel-writing, or memoir, as well as general audiences, will be equally pleased. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
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