Saturday, September 1, 2012

"The Secret Life of Objects," by Dawn Raffel

We all have certain meaningful objects in our lives; most often their meaning comes from who gave us the objects, and/or from the circumstances in which we acquired them. Each essay in Dawn Raffel's collection of very short (from a half page to three pages each) essays, "The Secret Life of Objects" (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012), focuses on one such meaningful object in her life. She describes the objects and -- especially -- the circumstances of acquiring the objects, and her feelings about them. As we read these short pieces, we learn about the author's history, family, and character. In the brief introduction to the book, she writes that "Surveying my house I found myself surrounded by surfaces and vessels, by paper and glass, by cloth, wood, clay, paint, and also my late artist mother's renditions of things....Objects are intractable. We own them. We don't. All memoir is fiction. We try to fit the pieces together again." The titles of the approximately 50 pieces include "The Mug," "The Moonstone Ring," "The Wedding Gift," "The Tea Set from Japan," "The Bride's Bible," "The Rocking Chair," "My Grandmother Bern's Recipes," "My Father's Hat," and "The Dictionary," to name just a few. Many of the essays are accompanied by lovely, evocative black and white drawings by Sean Evers. Each piece is a sort of meditation. Although this book is short (158 pages), it is best savored over time, a few selections at a time. It is certain to remind readers, as it did me, of meaningful objects in our own homes and lives, and of the histories and feelings attached to them. I highly recommend this unusual and beautifully written book.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter