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Season of the Body: Essays


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In this collection of affecting and thought-provoking essays, Miller, an English professor at Western Washington University, addresses how so many people try to move determinedly forward in their lives, but often find themselves "doubling back" and "playing out the same plots again and again." Likewise, the forward motion of each of these essays tends to loop back and revisit themes of love, loss, loneliness and healing. Reflections on Miller's romantic relationships, Zen meditation practice, Jewish heritage, infertility, surrogate motherhood and work as a masseuse are among the many points of access through which she explores physicality. Details such as the red and gold of autumn leaves link vastly different vignettes on the pain of a miscarriage, a walk in the New England countryside and a lack of communication between a mother and daughter. Miller's expressions of sadness and loneliness are never laments, though; they're juxtaposed with themes of rebirth, renewal and healing love. About a breast cancer patient, she writes, "I cupped my palms on her sternum, and felt the absence there, an ache traveling up my arm and into my own breast. We both started to cry then: not in a debilitating way, but gently, almost happily, as if we spoke a language of the female, body-to-body, unhampered by the tired obstacle of speech." Miller's observation that "endings never stay put, but keep changing into beginnings; eventually we're left reeling in a perpetual present" serves not as a warning, but an invitation to embrace the cycles of life with calm receptivity. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"Season of the Body is calm and lovely, occasionally broken-hearted, always clear-eyed, about loss and the primordial importance of touching one another while recovering. It is about physicality and love, hands-on repair and continuing. This book is a gift both useful and beautiful. Brenda Miller should be thanked for it every day, " says William Kittredge.

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