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Posts Tagged ‘Alice Lowe’

Alice Lowe, a contributor to Blogging Woolf and a prolific essay writer, has a new essay in Stonecoast Review. In it, she pays homage to her muse, Virginia Woolf, and reflects on her new tattoo, aging and writing.

You can read more about it on Alice’s blog: Seventy | Alice Lowe — still writing

 

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I’m not a literary snob—well, maybe a bit—but I’ve never had any interest in John Grisham’s blockbuster novels. I’d heard they’re page-turners, well written even though formulaic, good distractions if that’s what you’re after.

Then a friend told me that his new novel, Camino Island, wasn’t his typical corporate/legal skullduggery, that it was summer fun—a beach read—about the theft of Scott Fitzgerald’s manuscripts from the Princeton Library. The story focuses on a novelist and a bookseller in a Florida island community. Sounded promising, and the deal-maker was a Virginia Woolf reference.

Grant, a bookstore owner and collector of rare books, is showing some of his favorite acquisitions to Mercer, whom he’s trying to seduce and who is a plant, hired by Princeton’s insurer to spy on Grant for any possible connection to the stolen manuscripts. He extracts his most valuable book from safekeeping, a signed first edition of Catcher in the Rye (prized because Salinger seldom signed his books). Mercer mentions that she taught it once but that it’s not a favorite. She prefers female writers. He then brings out the rarest book he has by a woman, A Room of One’s Own.

 Mercer: “I love this book. I read it in high school and it inspired me to become a writer, or at least give it a shot.” She recites the key line: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” They discuss Woolf—“so brave,” “a tortured soul”—and writers’ sufferings and destructive behaviors.

Mercer has been struggling to write a second novel, several years after the success of her first. Now, with free time and the windfall she’s getting from the insurance company, the narrator observes: “With a room of her own and some money in her pocket, perhaps she could settle in and write some fiction.”

The beginning grabbed me—the heist—but it was disappointing after that, with a bit of punch at the end. I tried to enjoy it, but I found Mercer a not very interesting and not very convincing protagonist. It was a quick read, and I did stick with it until the end to find out what happened to the manuscripts. But, like Mercer, I prefer to read women authors.

Still, there was Woolf—existing in the lofty presence of Fitzgerald and Salinger, Hemingway and Faulkner, holding her own with all that testosterone.

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Read Alice Lowe’s post on her blog about her essay in the Baltimore Review to find out how she ties Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own to the topic of 19th-century Arctic exploration.

How did I come to write about 19th-century Arctic exploration? It started with a song, as I explain in my essay “The Idea of North.” One thing led to another, and I was off on a tangent…

Source: The Idea of North | Alice Lowe blogs … about writing & reading & Virginia Woolf

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Fire and Stone by Priscilla Long is an outstanding collection of personal essays encompassingfire-stone Priscilla’s life and family, her reflections on being an activist in Boston in the sixties, forays into science, literary influences, and more. Disclosure: In addition to being a remarkable writer, Priscilla is a good friend and my writing mentor.

I enjoyed reading in her essay “Throwing Stones” about how she “entered into the shadowy realm of American rebellion, into the sixties of pickets and protests and street marches and flag burnings … and danced all night and marched against the war and read Gramsci and Marx and Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf….”

But I was surprised when I found references to Mrs. Dalloway in two more essays in the same section: “The Musician” and “Dressing.” I knew Priscilla admired Woolf’s work, but I didn’t think she’d been a significant influence. So I asked her, “What’s with this?” She replied that she had written the essays at different times, had assembled the collection in a fitting order, but hadn’t realized there were Woolf references in three closely-sequenced essays.

When I delved into Woolf references in contemporary fiction* several years ago, I noted how they often were positioned to identify a time or a milieu in young women’s lives. They do that in Priscilla’s essays, but these aren’t fiction—Priscilla and her feminist cohort were reading A Room of One’s Own; young women were pondering the life and times of Clarissa Dalloway. I still find fictional references, and I read a number of personal essays every week. I frequently come across writers’ tributes to Woolf’s influence, or references to her novels or characters. Posters still hang in dorm rooms; Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse are on many a beside table of many a woman, young and old, in fiction and in life.

*Editor’s Note: Alice Lowe’s monograph, Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction, is available from Cecil Woolf Publishers. You can also find more posts about Woolf in contemporary fiction.

 

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After having an essay published last year in Spry Literary Journal, I was invited to contribute to abcsSpry’s ABC series. Writing for Beginners and Fiction Writing would be followed by the ABCs of Creative Nonfiction, and I could write on the letter of my choice.

I quickly claimed the letter “M” with its myriad manifestations–memoir, memory, motivation, and metaphor, to name just a few. And what about mentors and muses? I’d written a chapter, “A Muse of One’s Own,” for the 2014 book Writing after Retirement(yes, of course I spotlight Virginia Woolf!)–so I adapted it for this project.

Editor’s Note: You can finish reading this post on Alice’s blog: ABCs of Creative Nonfiction | Alice Lowe blogs … about writing & reading & Virginia Woolf

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At the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, scholar Catherine Hollis Small Backs of Childrenmade the connection between Virginia Woolf and Lidia Yukavitch’s novel The Small Backs of Children in her paper, “Thinking Through Virginia Woolf: Woolf as Portal in Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children.”

Hollis was part of a fascinating panel titled “Woolf’s Legacy to Female Writers,” along with Eva Mendez, who spoke about Alice Munro, and Amy Muse, who spoke about Sarah Ruhl.

Hollis also wrote a review of Yuknavitch’s novel for Public Books in which she connects it to Woolf’s critique of gendered violence. “The Woolf Girl” appears in the December 15 issue of the online review site devoted to interdisciplinary discussion of books and the arts.

For more on the novel’s connections with Woolf, read Alice Lowe’s blog post, “Lidia Yuknavitch novel draws on Woolf.”

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Here’s Blogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe’s essay on the work world for women in the not too distant past. She’s the author of two monographs published by Cecil Woolf Publishers:

Alice Lowe

Alice Lowe

  • Virginia Woolf as Memoirist: “I am made and remade continually” – Bloomsbury Heritage Monograph #72, Cecil Woolf Publishers
  • Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction – Bloomsbury Heritage Monograph #58, Cecil Woolf Publishers, 2010

[This essay was originally published in Crab Creek Review, Vol. 2016, #1] But can she type? Back in the early 1970s, when my latent feminist consciousness was starting to awaken, I bought a poster, a 16 by 24-inc…

Source: But can she type?

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