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April 22 , 2008

Women in a Man's World, Crying



This thoughtful, engaging collection showcases the best nonfiction prose produced by one of the nation's most observant and incisive writers.

This collection of warm, heartfelt essays from award-winning novelist Vicki Covington chronicles the multitude of "in between" moments in the writer's life. These are her stolen moments in between the writing of four novels-Gathering Home, Bird of Paradise, Night Ride Home, and The Last Hotel for Women; in between coauthoring the edgy memoir Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage with her husband Dennis Covington; in between raising two daughters; in between her husband's struggle with cancer and the author's own heart attack; in between a life full of trials and triumphs, disappointments and celebrations - moments that, as Covington demonstrates here, are always rich and revealing.

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In the title essay, the author questions why all seven middle-class women who live on her street confess at a neighborhood cookout that in the past 48 hours each of them has cried. In "A Southern Thanksgiving," Covington reflects on the "family dance" that is Thanksgiving in the South: "In the North they put their crazy family members in institutions, but in the South we put them in the living room for everyone to enjoy." In "My Mother's Brain," the author recounts the onset of Alzheimer's in her mother and how, with the spread of the disease, an untapped vein of love is revealed.

Some of these essays were written as weekly newspaper columns for the Birmingham News. Others were written for specific literary occasions, such as the First Annual Eudora Welty Symposium. They are divided into six thematic sections: "Girls and Women," "Neighborhood," "Death," "The South," "Spiritual Matters," and "Writing."

Throughout, as Covington casts her candid, attentive eye on a situation, confusion yields to comprehension, fear flourishes into faith, and anger flows into understanding. In memorializing the small moments of her life, she finds that they are far from peripheral; indeed, they are central to a life full of value and meaning.

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