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Abigail Thomas is the author of the novel An Actual Life and the story collections Getting Over Tom and Herb's Pajamas. She lives with her husband in New York City, where she teaches in the M.F.A. writing program at the New School.
Snippets and vignettes from the late 1960s on magically unfold in the story of novelist Thomas's life. Amazingly, despite the short entries (some only several sentences), the reader grows emotionally attached to her husbands, sister, and children. With a flair for visual imagery, Thomas (An Actual Life) allows readers into her continued relationship with her second ex-husband, whose life is cut short by myelodysplasia. Interspersed are the details of conversations between Thomas and her sister. It's as if Thomas has allowed a camera to peer into her life while family, friends, and lovers narrate with running commentary. The humor and love intertwined throughout the book make it a surprisingly delightful story, just right for an afternoon or evening of reading, and Thomas's solid writing makes the characters rise out of the pages. This is an ideal purchase for libraries with discussion groups--there is a lot to talk about after the reader puts down the book.--Joyce Sparrow, St. Petersburg P.L., FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In a series of poignant vignettes, each complete within itself, Thomas succeeds in conveying an engrossing life story in surprising depth. A novelist (An Actual Life), teacher of creative writing and grandmother of six, Thomas is a fine writer who spells out the bare facts of her life with dispatch. Pregnant at 18, she married the first of her three husbands. After eight years, she and her three children moved to her parents' house in New York. After several years, she remarried. With her second husband, a physicist, she had one child before they divorced. Eleven years later, she married her present husband. Thomas looks back at her younger self with affection, drawing a compassionate portrait of a young woman seeking to make a life for herself and her children, coping with domestic chores and her own conflicting needs. Thomas writes with serious intent and dark humor about her parents, her sister, motherhood, her children and grandchildren, but her most affecting scenes describe the illness and death of the man who was her second husband. Even the structure of her memoir is elegiac, with its three parts titled "Before," "Mortality" and "Here and Now." Sorrow mixes with joy in this beautifully crafted memoir as she remembers her second spouse as a lover, husband and, finally, friend. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Poetic.... Thomas is an observant and graceful writer." --The New York Times Book Review "Razor-sharp pieces of radiant truth...not so much memoir as a stained glass window made up of scenes garnered from a life. This is an unforgettable portrait of a grown-up woman who has learned how to rejoice in being herself. Reading it, we feel the crazy beauty of life." --Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies "Elegantly framed vignettes that quickly bring us to the essence of a game, bemused woman with a vivid interest in love." --Elle "Safekeeping is a sapphire...pointy, gleaming, in the end, blue.... You know a form is right when, in the end, you can't imagine a story told any other way. Abigail Thomas walks the edge of the form's boundaries; her stories are haunted by adjectives." --Los Angeles Times Book Review