Coffee House Press
- Physical Description
- 149 pages : illustrations, maps ; 21 cm
- Includes bibliographical references.
- Main Author
In a follow-up of sorts to The Book of Jon (a hybrid memoir about her father), poet and University of Denver professor Sikelianos introduces readers to her grandmother Melena, a former belly dancer, via quotes, passages of prose and poetry, maps, photos, and newspaper clippings featuring Melena or referring to her life. Sikelianos admits that she doesn't know much about her grandmother, who had five husbands and three daughters. The book hits its high point during interviews with these daughters (one of whom, Ellen, is the author's mother). Sikelianos's writing can be visceral, such as a scene where she describes Melena teaching her to dance. However, her prose can also be frustratingly opaque and meandering. The book's visuals help when the words aren't enough; Melena strikes a playful and sharp figure in her leopard print costume. Sikelianos never lets go of the fantasy of the image, but she also explores her grandmother's underlying grit. Fans of her previous work will be sure to enjoy Sikelianos's atypical memoir. Illus. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC
This is the tale of Melena, five times married, mother of three, burlesque dancer, and "the toughest, hardest-assed woman to ever eat wood and bite nails." Located in history and memory, her life cracks open questions of identity at the heart of an American immigrant woman's experience and becomes an argument that no existence is ever truly marginal.
Eleni Sikelianos is the author of six books of poetry, most recently The Loving Detail of the Living and the Dead, as well as a hybrid memoir, The Book of Jon. Sikelianos directs the creative writing program at the University of Denver.