Doris Grumbach Fifty Days of Solitude

ISBN 13: 9780807070604

Fifty Days of Solitude

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9780807070604: Fifty Days of Solitude
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Voluntarily separating herself from the outside world, an editor and book reviewer comes to terms with her inner self, realizing the extent to which she gives credence to superficial things. 20,000 first printing. National ad/promo.

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Review:

When her companion Sylvia left for an extended book-buying trip, Doris Grumbach was given 50 days alone in their home on the coast of Maine. It was the winter of 1993 and the 75-year-old Grumbach surrounded herself with silence and music, with books and an empty journal, with paintings and the view out her window of a bare winter landscape. Fifty Days of Solitude is a memoir of what Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called the "inscape": the deep, meandering landscape of an interior life. Grumbach's observations about the paintings of Edward Hopper, the death of a friend from AIDS, and the life-long grief of Dr. Anna Perkins for her companion Miss Hannay are full of dignity and pathos. Fifty Days of Solitude is a rendering of the mind and heart alone, of how distance and silence inform our compassion and intellect.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Graceful but essentially unsatisfying reflections on seven weeks spent alone in a house near the Maine coast. Novelist and critic Grumbach chronicled her move with her friend Sybil from Washington, D.C., to Maine in Extra Innings (1993), a memoir of her 74th year. A year later, Sybil hied herself back to Washington on an extended business trip--50 days, to be exact. Rather than accompany her, Grumbach decided to tough out a Maine winter alone, ``to move forward in my work and deeper into the chambered nautilus of the mind that produces it.'' Solitude is relative here. The author unplugged one phone but left another hooked to an answering machine, warning callers that she might or might not return calls. Recordings and radio broke the silence at home, trips to the post office and to church kept her in visual touch with other human beings, although she refrained from conversation. Nevertheless, long days passed when her only companions were birds, insects, books, and the two fictional characters who were the centerpiece of the novel she was working on. In this diary of her solitude, Grumbach ponders death (``...was I perhaps preparing myself for the final deep freeze...''), creativity, being alone, the search for self, and the consequences of silence--the cold seems colder, the space larger, and in the midst of a snowstorm, silence itself becomes noisy. Most rewarding are Grumbach's comments on books and authors; a lengthy reading list could be constructed from this small memoir. Vignettes of intriguing acquaintances are also deftly sketched. However, the brief journal-style entries, evocative as they often are, cry for further development. If Grumbach went to the bottom of her soul during her lonely winter, she does not take the reader with her. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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