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September 01 , 2009

Fifty Days of Solitude

A Memoir


A New York Times Notable Book: To truly understand herself, Doris Grumbach embraces solitude

With a busy career as a novelist, essayist, reviewer, and bookstore owner, Doris Grumbach has little opportunity to be alone. However, after seventy-five years on the planet, she finally has her chance: Her partner has departed for an extended book-buying trip, and Grumbach has been given fifty days to relax, think, and write about her experience.

In this graceful memoir, Grumbach delicately balances the beauty of turning one’s back on everything with the hardship of complete aloneness. Even as she attends church and collects her mail, she moves like a shadow, speaking to no one. Left only to her books and music in the midst of a Maine winter, she must look within herself for solace. The result of this reflection is a powerful meditation on the meaning of aging, writing, and one’s own company—and reaffirmation of the power of friends and companionship.

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