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When Women Were Birds

Fifty-four Variations on Voice

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebrates

Terry Tempest Williams's mother told her: "I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone."

Readers of Williams's iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.

"They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books . . . I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty . . . Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother's journals were blank." What did Williams's mother mean by that? In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals. When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question "What does it mean to have a voice?"

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 20, 2012 – Williams, the sensitive author of Refuge, is shocked to discover her deceased mother s unwritten memoirs shelves worth of blank pages. Under such unpromising circumstances commences a kaleidoscopic celebration and palimpsest all metaphorical clich s but apt on finding a voice and woman s identity beyond the silenced, selfless existence informed by children and a husband even a family brimming with love. The empty pages of a journal manifest a hermeneutics of suspicion: the white upon which to project a lifelong journey of self-discovery. In 54 meditations (one for each year of her mother s life, and of Williams s life to date), we learn about an unusual (patriarchal) Mormon background and an upbringing that included a season of homeschooling in Hawaii, encounters with a husband-and-wife team of John Birchers while teaching high school biology , a job at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the meeting of her future mate over a discussion of books and birds. Among deep influences are Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai; H l ne Cixous; Clarice Lispector; the secret-women s language of China, N shu; and the soaring operas of Richard Strauss. If a man knew what a woman never forgets, he would love her differently, Williams declares in her bighearted, deliberative hymn: old themes newly warbled.

Customer Reviews

When Women Were Birds Enthusiast

I have enjoyed all of William's books that I have read, this one touched me very deeply and I read it 8 times in a row. It is a creation mythology and a memoir of great beauty and strength. Empty journals turned into touching history and fighting for the earth in a most productive form - seed to tree and bird to branch equals song. Living life fully as a contact sport and an exercise in poetic expression. Giving up the rules in order to discover the wonder and possibility of each day even while setting the politics in motion and speaking out for all creation. I downloaded this book to my cellphone reader, just so when I am waiting I can calm myself and keep my mind in tune. It literally brings my blood pressure to norm and excites my passion for action and celebration. Woman to woman power from the tribe of one-breasted. What we have done, what we can undo, and a tribute to what can be created with the right words.

Voice in silence

As a new mother, this book really moved me. I found that finding and keeping my voice is constant struggle. I loved being able to see into her relationship with her mother from the empty journals. But more importantly, her ability to use the journals to find and keep her own voice over and over again. I hope to emulate Williams ability to find her voice in silence, blankness. And I hope to be able to teach my own daughter the importance and power of silence when developing one's voice.

Very interesting

Good book

When Women Were Birds
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 10, 2012
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings