Aurelia, Aurélia A memoir

Kathryn Davis, 1946-

Book - 2022

Kathryn Davis's hypnotic new book is a meditation on the way imagination shapes life, and how life, as it moves forward, shapes imagination. At its center is the death of her husband, Eric. The book unfolds as a study of their marriage, its deep joys and stinging frustrations; it is also a book about time, the inexorable events that determine beginnings and endings. -- publisher's description

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BIOGRAPHY/Davis, Kathryn
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2nd Floor New Shelf BIOGRAPHY/Davis, Kathryn (NEW SHELF) Due Jul 7, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press 2022.
Language
English
Physical Description
108 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781644450789
164445078X
Main Author
Kathryn Davis, 1946- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Davis' darkly imaginative and surreal novels, including The Silk Road (2019) and Duplex (2013), will cue readers to the improbability of her writing a conventional memoir. Instead she presents a series of incisive sketches capturing reverberating moments in her life, including a clearly formative interlude in her Philadelphia childhood, during which her mother read her fairy tales as Davis endured a long bout with pleurisy. Aurelia is the name of the student ship Davis sailed on to Europe, a transformative voyage for a "pretentious girl of sixteen with a prancing intellect and an overweening desire for Romance." Other passages are more daunting, especially the death of her husband and disconcerting episodes in her life as a widow. Davis reflects on memory, the senses, literature (Aurélia is the title of a novella by Gérard de Nerval), and art. In a riveting piece about Beethoven's Bagatelles, Davis considers "the moment between, the ghost-moment," a key motif in this exquisite, lightning-bolt bright, zigzagging, and striking musing on the self, life, death, and the endlessly provocative jumble of the sublime and the absurd, the comic and the tragic. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Davis' darkly imaginative and surreal novels, including The Silk Road (2019) and Duplex (2013), will cue readers to the improbability of her writing a conventional memoir. Instead she presents a series of incisive sketches capturing reverberating moments in her life, including a clearly formative interlude in her Philadelphia childhood, during which her mother read her fairy tales as Davis endured a long bout with pleurisy. Aurelia is the name of the student ship Davis sailed on to Europe, a transformative voyage for a "pretentious girl of sixteen with a prancing intellect and an overweening desire for Romance." Other passages are more daunting, especially the death of her husband and disconcerting episodes in her life as a widow. Davis reflects on memory, the senses, literature (Aurélia is the title of a novella by Gérard de Nerval), and art. In a riveting piece about Beethoven's Bagatelles, Davis considers "the moment between, the ghost-moment," a key motif in this exquisite, lightning-bolt bright, zigzagging, and striking musing on the self, life, death, and the endlessly provocative jumble of the sublime and the absurd, the comic and the tragic. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

With In Love, NBA/NBCC finalist Bloom (White Houses) takes us on a painful journey as her husband retires from his job, withdraws from life, and finally receives a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's; she recalls both the love they experienced and the love it took to stand by him as he ended his life on his own terms. In The Beauty of Dusk, New York Times columnist Bruni contemplates aging, illness, and the end of the road as he describes a rare stroke that deprived him of sight in his right eye, even as he learns that he could lose sight in his left eye as well. In Aurelia, Aurélia, Lannan Literary Award-winning novelist Davis (The Silk Road) considers how living and imagining interact in a book grounded in the joys and troubles of her marriage and her husband's recent death. Raised in an ultra-orthodox Jewish household and married off at age 19 to a man she barely knew, Haart made a Brazen decision more than two decades later, surreptitiously earning enough money to break away, then entering the fashion world, and finally becoming CEO and co-owner of the modeling agency Elite World Group. Adding to all those paw-poundingly wonderful canine celebrations that keep coming our way, And a Dog Called Fig is Dublin IMPAC long-listed Canadian novelist Humphreys's paean to dogs as the ideal companion to the writing life. In The Tears of a Man Flow Inward, Burundi-born, U.S.-based Pushcart/Whiting honoree Irankunda recalls how his family and fellow villagers survived the 13-year civil war in his country—with the help, crucially, of his kind and brave mother, a Mushingantahe, or chosen village leader—and how the war destroyed Burundi's culture and traditions. As private investigator Krouse explains in Tell Me Everything, she accepted a case of alleged sexual assault at a party for college football players and recruits despite reservations owing to her own experiences with sexual violence, then saw the case become a landmark civil rights case. In Red Paint, LaPointe, a Salish poet and nonfiction author from the Nooksack and Upper Skagit Indian tribes, explains how she has sought to reclaim a place in the world for herself and her people by blending her passion for the punk rock of the Pacific Northwest and her desire to honor spiritual traditions and particularly a namesake great-grandmother who fought to preserve the Lushootseed language. Undoubtedly, book critic Newton has Ancestor Trouble: a forebear accused of witchcraft in Puritan Massachusetts, a grandfather married 13 times, a father who praised slavery and obsessed over the purity of his bloodlines, and a frantic, cat-rescuing mother who performed exorcisms, all of which made her wonder how she would turn out. In How Do I Un-Remember This? comedian/screenwriter Pellegrino draws on his big-hit podcast Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino (over 13.5 million downloads in 2020) as he renegotiates 1990s pop culture and moments funny, embarrassing, or painful to limn growing up closeted in a conservative Ohio community. In Black Ops, Prado portrays a life that ranges from his family's fleeing the Cuban revolution when he was seven to his retirement from the CIA as the equivalent of a two-star general while also detailing the agency's involvement over the decades in numerous "shadow wars" (200,000-copy first printing). Segall came of age as a reporter just as tech entrepreneurs began to soar, and as she interviewed these Special Characters, she also rose to become an award-winning investigative reporter and (until 2019) CNN's senior tech correspondent (75,000-copy first printing). Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

With In Love, NBA/NBCC finalist Bloom (White Houses) takes us on a painful journey as her husband retires from his job, withdraws from life, and finally receives a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's; she recalls both the love they experienced and the love it took to stand by him as he ended his life on his own terms. In The Beauty of Dusk, New York Times columnist Bruni contemplates aging, illness, and the end of the road as he describes a rare stroke that deprived him of sight in his right eye, even as he learns that he could lose sight in his left eye as well. In Aurelia, Aurélia, Lannan Literary Award-winning novelist Davis (The Silk Road) considers how living and imagining interact in a book grounded in the joys and troubles of her marriage and her husband's recent death. Raised in an ultra-orthodox Jewish household and married off at age 19 to a man she barely knew, Haart made a Brazen decision more than two decades later, surreptitiously earning enough money to break away, then entering the fashion world, and finally becoming CEO and co-owner of the modeling agency Elite World Group. Adding to all those paw-poundingly wonderful canine celebrations that keep coming our way, And a Dog Called Fig is Dublin IMPAC long-listed Canadian novelist Humphreys's paean to dogs as the ideal companion to the writing life. In The Tears of a Man Flow Inward, Burundi-born, U.S.-based Pushcart/Whiting honoree Irankunda recalls how his family and fellow villagers survived the 13-year civil war in his country—with the help, crucially, of his kind and brave mother, a Mushingantahe, or chosen village leader—and how the war destroyed Burundi's culture and traditions. As private investigator Krouse explains in Tell Me Everything, she accepted a case of alleged sexual assault at a party for college football players and recruits despite reservations owing to her own experiences with sexual violence, then saw the case become a landmark civil rights case. In Red Paint, LaPointe, a Salish poet and nonfiction author from the Nooksack and Upper Skagit Indian tribes, explains how she has sought to reclaim a place in the world for herself and her people by blending her passion for the punk rock of the Pacific Northwest and her desire to honor spiritual traditions and particularly a namesake great-grandmother who fought to preserve the Lushootseed language. Undoubtedly, book critic Newton has Ancestor Trouble: a forebear accused of witchcraft in Puritan Massachusetts, a grandfather married 13 times, a father who praised slavery and obsessed over the purity of his bloodlines, and a frantic, cat-rescuing mother who performed exorcisms, all of which made her wonder how she would turn out. In How Do I Un-Remember This? comedian/screenwriter Pellegrino draws on his big-hit podcast Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino (over 13.5 million downloads in 2020) as he renegotiates 1990s pop culture and moments funny, embarrassing, or painful to limn growing up closeted in a conservative Ohio community. In Black Ops, Prado portrays a life that ranges from his family's fleeing the Cuban revolution when he was seven to his retirement from the CIA as the equivalent of a two-star general while also detailing the agency's involvement over the decades in numerous "shadow wars" (200,000-copy first printing). Segall came of age as a reporter just as tech entrepreneurs began to soar, and as she interviewed these Special Characters, she also rose to become an award-winning investigative reporter and (until 2019) CNN's senior tech correspondent (75,000-copy first printing). Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Novelist Davis (The Silk Road) conjures real and imagined worlds in this lithe and cerebral exploration of life, death, and the ways both influence craft. When her husband died from cancer in 2019 in his 60s, Davis's vision of their future went with him as well. But as she vividly illustrates in nonlinear, dreamlike vignettes, her memories of their past, and her own, remained. Mining them to make meaning of her loss, she delivers a resonant meditation on impermanence that takes the form of ghost stories; musings on the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, whose "genius of conjuring a sense of time" gave young Davis "that shiver of ecstasy that is an unmistakable symptom of the creative act"; an account of a fanciful trip that gets derailed by a blizzard; and a study of Beethoven's Opus 126 that argues transitions—whether they be in music, art, or life itself—deserve the same reverence as their outcomes. Loosely following the trajectory of her marriage to its end, she injects her narration with moments that evoke the infinitude of love: "It's different washing the body after the person has died.... The wish to inflict no harm is still there, elevated by the absence of response to something resembling desire." Bending genre and time, this is a pleasure to get lost in. (Mar.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A memoir centered on the death of the author's husband forms a study on the joys and frustrations of their marriage, the passage of time, and how life and imagination influence each other.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An eerily dreamlike memoir, and the first work of nonfiction by one of our most inventive novelists.Aurelia, Aurélia begins on a boat. The author, sixteen years old, is traveling to Europe at an age when one can “try on personae like dresses.” She has the confidence of a teenager cultivating her earliest obsessions—Woolf, Durrell, Bergman—sure of her maturity, sure of the life that awaits her. Soon she finds herself in a Greece far drearier than the Greece of fantasy, “climbing up and down the steep paths every morning with the real old women, looking for kindling.”Kathryn Davis’s hypnotic new book is a meditation on the way imagination shapes life, and how life, as it moves forward, shapes imagination. At its center is the death of her husband, Eric. The book unfolds as a study of their marriage, its deep joys and stinging frustrations; it is also a book about time, the inexorable events that determine beginnings and endings. The preoccupations that mark Davis’s fiction are recognizable here—fateful voyages, an intense sense of place, the unexpected union of the magical and the real—but the vehicle itself is utterly new.Aurelia, Aurélia explodes the conventional bounds of memoir. It is an astonishing accomplishment.