The Beginning of The End (A Review of Anne Roiphe’s “Epilogue: A Memoir”)

The content on this web page is not to be reused or reprinted without permission of the writer.

Usually I don’t blog my non-fiction work (especially if it’s up for publication). But I’m breaking that rule because I’m enjoying the copy & paste blog widget @ GoodReads. It’s a recently edited review. (I’m terrible about my own copy – a habit I intend to break thanks to a book I’m finally reading in its entirety.) So a few people may stumble upon it before I submit it to HarperCollins marketing. There were some server issues that prevented me from submitting two reviews yesterday, so I’m waiting for a resolution before resubmitting them. I’m also planning to start a literary review section on my zine The Lipstick Pages. It won’t be up and running until I catch up on a few more reviews (by the end of August?), but it’s happening!

A Memoir Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you’ve passed Anne Roiphe’s books on shelves at BookPeople and Borders like me (see Up the Sandbox! through Water from the Well…), you may already be familiar with descriptions of her feminist writings, which combine realism and romance. Roiphe is also a well-established memoir writer (1185 Park Avenue and Fruitful: A Real Mother) connecting with women readers for four decades. Her latest memoir, Epilogue, is true to her trademark duality, without detached factual research and fiction’s artifice. This is her life, after the end of a thirty-nine year relationship – the beginning of the end as the title implies.

Epilogue conflicts with the notion of the typical feminist memoir in that it admits what many diehard feminist writers won’t – that a longterm companionship with the opposite sex is not a weakness, but a strength. It relates a universal message: When we lose that closeness, that intimacy we’ve had for so long, we struggle, even with a network of family and friends who grieve with us. The reader is is carried along the widowed author’s natural grief and recovery process – indicated by the natural phases of the moon replacing numbered chapters and parts.

Roiphe’s memoir contains tersely profound prose that doesn’t offer a self help cure for grief and loneliness after the death of a loved one. It isn’t a golden god memoir about her life partner, an imperfect lover, husband, father, and psychoanalyst either. Epilogue is a personal account of life after a partner dies, and how we struggle for normalcy and companionship – which can often contradict the feminist notion of an independent woman. Roiphe asserts that despite our independence, we are social animals who need relationships in our lives. Not because they define who we are as women, but because we all need to connect – and thrive – as human beings.

The widowed septuagenarian author’s brusque prose and lack of dialogue between the real life characters may be a turn-off to younger readers. However, older readers (over thirty) who have experienced a personal loss of someone close may appreciate and relate to the text as a cathartic testament of a writer compelled to share her story.

Overall, Anne Roiphe’s Epilogue is a good read.

View all my reviews.


Oh, no! It’s another post about “Sense”…

Entre les Trous de la Memoire by Dominique Appia.

Please note: The content on this web page is not to be reused or reprinted without permission of the writer.

If you’re new to this blog, “Sense” is the working title of a collection of poetry I’m working on, which may be published posthumously if I don’t get it all together in this lifetime. It’s about relating to a work of art you might not consciously relate to, but subconsciously (and intimately) you relate to it so much that it conjures fragments of childhood memories and dreams. I’m digging this one up from two years ago after recently experiencing powerful dreams and memories involving my family. The personal becomes poetic.

From Chapter 3: The Uncanny Powers of Observation

a clockwise memory of home

an aged white ceiling above me

is held upright by the constancy

of beige stucco and wood gravity-

and the inertia of built-in bookcases.

the boat called yesterday docks

on the hardwood floor today and

i watch the waves come ashore

and hope the books aren’t ruined,

but then something happens –

a fire consumes the pages

on the brown planked beach

where two girls once played.

white waterfall peaks distract me

as i clutch my composition book

and stare at the great wide open

with envy of the hot air balloon…

one day there will be a memory

of an innocent abroad sailing

on a ship across The Atlantic

to study classical and abstract art.

she’ll find the meaning of a mirror

with a reflection of blue sky,

and a tiny photograph wedged

in the gilded frame of time.

a mirror rests above the mantle

of a fustian red marble fireplace

that radiates from the flames

of remembered dreams…

© 2006 Renée Valmont, a.k.a. Danna Williams

Let them eat cake! (and “Another Case of Writer’s Block”)

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It’s been a while. I loved this blog, so I’m not sure why I abandoned it. But the gardener is back to cut away the weeds and start planting. Now is my time to be fruitful I suppose.

The following is all about my writing and eating disorder, a poem I was too embarrassed to submit to H&H. My excuse was it was too autobiographical and not “experimental” enough. And I felt naked, talking about my personal battles. Two years later, and still I struggle… Ah, well, here it is:

another case of writer’s block (July 2006)

everything has been written before

so i’ve given up poetry for good.

now I can write that dessert menu –

the world needs more pies and pastries,

not “clever” ways to express joy & pain-

the hot and cold of the human condition.

give me a homemade carrot cake,

not another awful love poem-

sweetened with insincere artifice.

let me dream of dark chocolate truffles

while malaise covers me like a blanket,

because it’s comforting food to me now-

and you can’t eat words.