East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir through the Seasons

Liza Dalby

Published by University of California Press, 2009
ISBN 10: 0520259912 / ISBN 13: 9780520259911
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Synopsis: Writing in luminous prose, Liza Dalby, acclaimed author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki, brings us this elegant and unique year’s journal a brilliant mosaic that is at once a candid memoir, a gardener’s diary, and an enlightening excursion through cultures east and west. Structured according to the seasonal units of an ancient Chinese almanac, East Wind Melts the Ice is made up of 72 short chapters that can be read straight through or dipped into at random. In the essays, Dalby transports us from her Berkeley garden to the streets of Kyoto, to Imperial China, to the sea cliffs of Northern California, and to points beyond. Throughout these journeys, Dalby weaves her memories of living in Japan and becoming the first and only non-Japanese geisha, her observations on the recurring phenomena of the natural world, and meditations on the cultural aesthetics of Japan, China, and California. She illuminates everyday life as well, in stories of keeping a pet butterfly, roasting rice cakes with her children, watching whales, and pampering worms to make compost. In the manner of the Japanese personal poetic essay, this vibrant work comprises 72 windows on a life lived between cultures, and the result is a wonderfully engaging read.

From the Inside Flap: "To read East Wind Melts the Ice is to slip into a time stream that is both as long and sinuous as history and as ephemeral as the present moment. Drawing inspiration from the thousand year old history of Japanese poetic diaries, and form from the ancient Chinese almanac that she uses to contain her musings, Liza Dalby has accomplished the seemingly impossible task of translating the sensibility of the Heian Court of 11th century Japan into the context of contemporary America. The result is a stunning chronicle of the beauty of time passing and an evocation of the transient and whimsical nature of all things."—Ruth Ozeki, author of My Year of Meats and All Over Creation

"I imagine Liza Dalby writing this book in an ancient library, a lion sleeping at her side, as in the paintings of Saint Jerome. As she collects and layers arcane and fascinating pieces of knowledge, she builds her own very personal almanac packed with the wonder of loving two cultures, the intense inner life of each season, and boundless curiosity of the scholar/child. This is a book to dip in and out of throughout the year."—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun

"Liza Dalby's memoir of the seasons is as fresh and captivating as springtime. A very special book."—Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

"This beautiful book awakens the senses. A journal, an almanac of the seasons, and a series of reflections on ancient Eastern Chinese and Japanese cultures, here you will find subtle observations of rain and heat, tangerines, mulberries and paulownia trees, crickets and doves forming a rich tapestry as they are woven with evocative fragments of history—stories of geishas, of salesmen who sold bulk fireflies, of the wood that was used for kimono chests, of emptiness in the tea ceremony. Like a lush garden, this book is meant to savor."—Susan Griffin, author of The Book of the Courtesans

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Title: East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir through ...
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2009
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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