What‚Äôs the Story? Reflections on a Life Grown Long is, in many ways, a kaleidoscopic chronicle of Lea‚Äôs ongoing reflections about life through writing. By turns elegiac, humorous, sad, joyful, angry‚ÄĒand often many of these at once‚ÄĒthis book of short prose entertains an abiding question for Lea: to what extent does his version of what happens in this life and in the world at large coincide with some putative reality? If the author had an opinionated, positive answer to such a question when young, life has imposed a degree of humility upon him in older age, whether he wants it or not. What‚Äôs the Story? is less notable, then, for the conclusions it reaches at any given point than for its compelling witness to what poet Wallace Stevens called ‚Äúthe mind in the act of finding what will suffice.
“The book is called¬†What‚Äôs the Story,¬†an essay collection.¬†They are surprising, even sometimes shocking, brief, aching, funny, and nostalgic ‚ÄĒ for all that is deeply felt, real, awkward, companionable and human.”
“Sydney Lea just keeps getting better. What‚Äôs the Story? is a collection of beautiful, wise, and heartbreaking essays, written in prose so sharp it cuts‚Ä¶This is the work of an author who is deeply and hopelessly in love with the world.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒJerry Dennis
‚ÄúThese short prose reflections offer a glimpse into the life of one of our most prolific writers‚ÄĒpoet, novelist, essayist; also father, husband, grandparent‚ÄĒby turns elegiac and humorous.”
‚ÄĒHoward Frank Mosher, author of Stranger in the Kingdom
‚ÄúThe ‚Äėchapters‚Äô of this strong and elegant book are actually never longer than two or three pages: big-poem length. Which makes reading it rhythmically satisfying, with its jazz-like riffs, in rich, far from prosaic prose by a man at the top of his game..‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒDavid Gullette, Ploughshares
A wonderful review of Syd’s book by Julia Shipley in Vermont’s premiere weekly, Seven Days.
“Throughout the book, Lea takes this route of certainty followed by backtracking followed by new assertion ‚ÄĒ a path at once engaging and hypnotic, like a lake’s lapping or a hunting dog’s looping scout and return. The reader often seems to be observing the author as he studies the paw prints his thought made as it went scampering through the underbrush of doubt, regret and love, propelled by its voracious appetite for beauty.¬†
This is not to say that Lea doesn’t deliver a satisfying conclusion to each short essay’s excursion ‚ÄĒ he does. But his sentences are gorgeous specimens, and readers may find themselves engrossed less by the urge to discover what the story is or was than by the need to savor its telling.”
Another great review was from Vermont author Beth Kanell, who is also the owner of Kingdom Books.
” In What’s the Story? Lea grapples to portray why each friend matters so much; he does it with precise yet rich descriptions of people and even of hunting dogs, as well as shared terrain.¬†. . . these short reflections — most just two or three pages long, and each one threaded so precisely that it’s half memoir, half prose poem, and three-quarters jazz improv in words . . .”¬†
About the Author:
Sydney Lea is poet laureate of Vermont and author of eleven collections of poetry, a novel, and three books of naturalist essays. In 2015, his twelfth poetry volume, No Doubt the Nameless, will be published by Four Way Books.
For more information:¬†http://sydneylea.net
5.5 x 8.5; trade paperback original; 182 pages; $19.95 | 978-0-9909733-9-3 (pbk)
The author is available for readings throughout New England. Distributed by Midpoint Trade Books, Ingram‚Äôs, Baker & Taylor. Available wherever books are sold.
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