"Moment of wisdom -- Answer in the affirmative -- The weather within -- The unswept emptiness -- Another love story -- The second time around -- the lost, strayed, stolen -- the reunion -- the oldest man -- a question answered -- diplomatic, retired -- mrs. teeter's tomato jar -- a kitchen allegory -- a delayed meeting -- notes on a necessary pact.
And so it was with great interest that I picked up her book about aging, and I wasn't disappointed. These are stories, with a couple of memoir essays, about how to get old, and what it means to get old, and what one experiences in that country. She's a fascinating writer, in that her fiction reads like memoir and her memoir like fiction. An early genre-bender, if you will.
But of course, Fisher being Fisher, it is about age, yes, but so much more. Memory. Place. Death. Wonder. France. War. Suffering. And rats (I'll let you discover them for yourself).
She says here, 'I have spent my life in a painstaking effort to tell about things as they are to me, so that they will not sound like autobiography but simply like notes, like factual reports.' A photo she found in a second-hand store of an old and "monkey-ugly" become the talisman she hangs over her writing desk, her companion into the exploration. It's intriguing and deeply human.
The book is not perfect -- a couple of the stories seem light-weight and some purists might not like her more fantastical stories, although I did, very much. In their imagery she reaches out to understand, and to express, what is essentially mysterious, and I felt the rustle of recognition on a deep level, which is a testament to her art.
Loneliness and regret touch many of the characters, and Fisher seems to be wrestling with how we make peace with the things we have done and the things we have left undone. From the vantage point of age, we remain ourselves, still hungry for love. The difference might be, however, where we find it.
Her forward and afterward give her justification for the collection, the source of the title, and expands a bit more on her own views of growing older. It was my first book by this author. When I picked up the book I thought I knew her but had confused her name with that of M C Richards. Obviously a sign of my own ageing and memory slips.
Not bad, just not what I expected, and not enough depth for reflection to make me want to keep the book for re-reading.