This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
Rebecca Winter is sixty, a famous photographer whose career is in decline. Divorced, she’s dealing with caring for elderly parents and trying to assist her grown son. Expenses are coming close to exceeding income and to address this she rents a modest cottage near a small town in upstate New York and leases her Manhattan apartment.
In Still life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen has crafted a story for our times, a gentle tale about family, change, aging, hope, even renewal. It’s written with humor, pathos and insight and embraces the sentiment of Ulysses, Tennyson’s iconic poem about aging, where he writes,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
As in all her work, Quindlen’s characters are fully developed and within the first few pages evoke the reader’s empathy. In some of her previous novels (Every Last One and Black and Blue), she’s used this to devastating effect having them suffer horrific personal tragedies in order to fulfill the theme of the work. It’s almost like losing a friend and the more I became engaged in Still Life with Bread Crumbs the more anxious I became that she’d perpetrate some similar calamity on Rebecca.
But fortunately, at least for this reader, that is not the case.
This novel is best summed up in a few lines, again from the poem Ulysses:
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
And, indeed it is.