“The essays in Vigderman’s collection dwell not on despair, but on the project of translating chaotic experience into art or memory . . . Lyrical and graceful” (Publishers Weekly).
In this accessible collection of essays, Patricia Vigderman attempts to translate some of life’s disordered events into the orderly happiness of art. She encounters manatees, children, and snakes; with Henry Adams, Marcel Proust, and W.G. Sebald; with Texas landscape, Vertigo, and Johannes Vermeer. Adams, in Japan after his wife’s death, found in the elaborate ritual of the tea ceremony and in the discomforts of a rural inn, occasions for the wit to face down grief. His letters to friends coax laughter from strangeness and loss. Like Adams, Vigderman has a stylist’s passion for revelatory detail, and for the pleasure of immersion in a world. Smart, generous, and probing, her discoveries play with direct experience, exploring the interaction of life and art as “magic you can walk in and out of.”
“In reading Vigderman’s collection, for the space of the journey, we are able to step outside ourselves, or a least engage her subjects—a small town in Texas, Proust, W.G. Sebald, and yes, manatees—to find some perspective on what it is to be human.” —The Iowa Review
“It is to this author’s credit that as her essays skip tracks, locating new routes without trying to prove their points, I was never in a hurry for the motion to end.” —The Rumpus
“Vigderman’s responses are fresh and original and her sounding of our collective literary treasures are likely to send you back to read them again, now overlaid with her embroidery.” —Mona Simpson, author of A Regular Guy