Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Writer's Story: AN INCREDIBLE TALENT FOR EXISTING

I am participating in the WOW! Women on Writing tour for a memoir that every writer needs to read. It's called An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story by Pamela Jane. Intrigued? I was! My review follows the book information:

A Young woman longs for an idyllic past, despite her revolutionary
belief that everything that exists must be destroyed.
Paperback: 246 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  Open Books Press (February 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1941799213  
ISBN-13: 978-1941799215
Amazon Link: click here


Book Summary:
“An Incredible Talent For Existing: A Writer’s Story” summary: It is 1965, the era of love, light and revolution. While the romantic narrator imagines a bucolic future in an old country house with children running through the dappled sunlight, her husband plots to organize a revolution and fight a guerrilla war in the Catskills.
Their fantasies are on a collision course.
The clash of visions turns into an inner war of identities when the author embraces radical feminism; she and her husband are comrades in revolution but combatants in marriage; she is a woman warrior who spends her days sewing long silk dresses reminiscent of a Henry James novel. One half of her isn't speaking to the other half.
And then, just when it seems that things cannot possibly get more explosive, her wilderness cabin burns down and Pamela finds herself left with only the clothes on her back.
From her vividly evoked existential childhood ("the only way I would know for sure that I existed was if others lots of others acknowledged it") to writing her first children's book on a sugar high during a glucose tolerance test, Pamela Jane takes the reader along on a highly entertaining personal, political, and psychological adventure.


My Review of An Incredible Talent for Existing


I was especially intrigued by this memoir because 1) I'm a writer and writing--or not writing--is a theme of this book and 2) I also came of age during the mid 1960's, the time when most of the events occur. 

I found Pamela Jane's account absolutely fascinating, where I started and finished it in an entire sitting, due entirely to the magical way she weaves her story. It begins with her childhood, where the main character "Pamie" creates ongoing stories in her head. This charming little girl evolves into a not so charming teen and college student but well...it was the times, wasn't it? 

The narrative following Pamie into her nontraditional marriage and beyond is compelling. I found myself thinking more than once, "How is she ever going to get out of this fix?"  And of course I had to keep reading to see what came next, where Pamie's choices would land her this time. From Connecticut to Michigan to Portland to New York to San Francisco and back to New York, following Pamie's life and loves is like a high speed trip across the U.S. during these volatile, changing decades of her young life.

And never leaving her side are the hopes of one day being a "real writer." One statement early in the book struck me as descriptive of a writer's life. These feelings came when she was a child, when the writing dream was just beginning: "Voices of the past sighed by me in the wind and whispered in the waiting fullness of the shadows." Voices that haunted her for years until she was able to give them words on paper.

With imagery that carries me to another time and place, descriptions that make the settings come alive to the senses, darkness laced with humor, this is a book not to miss. If you enjoy memoirs, if you are a writer yourself, if you want to get immersed into the era of the 1960's, then get this book!

About the Author:  Pamela Jane has published over twenty-five children’s books with Houghton Mifflin, Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, Penguin-Putnam, and Harper.  Her books include Noelle of the Nutcracker illustrated by Jan Brett, Little Goblins Ten illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, and Little Elfie One (Harper 2015). Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic (Skyhorse) was featured in The Wall Street Journal, BBC America, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Sunday Book Review and The Daily Dot, and has just come out in paper. Pamela Jane has published short stories and essays with The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Antigonish Review, Literary Mama. Pamela Jane is a writer and editor for womensmemoirs.com

Below are three clips of her work:

Literary Mama:


Womensmemoirs:




Find Pamela Jane Online:
 http://www.pamelajane.com (children’s books)


Twitter:  @memoircoaching, @austencats

Book Trailer for “An Incredible Talent for Existing”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA1znyLsaGY


5 comments:

  1. Finished in one sitting? That's a good book then.

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  2. I think the idea of a couple being both combatants and comrades is definitely interesting; it's often hard to reconcile differences with a significant other, even if you love that person.

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  3. So glad you enjoyed this one Karen - thank you for being part of the tour!

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  4. When somebody tells you that they read a book in one sitting and couldn't put it down, you know that it is really special.

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  5. Hi Karen and Pamela, I like the sound of An Incredible Talent for Existing. I am eager to read it now after your review.

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