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Jan 25, 2007



Speaking of time in fiction, I guess "Seven Loves" (decades of life captured inside a slim book) is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine" (the entirety of which takes place during a ride on an escalator). Maybe I'll place both books together on my bookshelf and see if I can actually cause a tear in the fabric of time.

More seriously, though, Valerie -- thanks for showing up and posting your thoughts here. Your book is a welcome contrast to the more frenetic books we usually discuss at the LBC.

Valerie Trueblood

Thank you! And I hope I can use this space to say how moving your tribute to Richard Brickner was; it sent me to his work.

The book Erin cites in the Structure contest, 253, is another one that could go on the shelf where you're trying to tear time. Do you know the wonderful story by Mahfouz, Half a Day, in which the little boy goes for his first day of school and comes out an old man?

Anne Fernald

Half a Day is totally heartbreaking. I can barely stand to think about it now that I have children.

You're all adding heaps to my stack of books to read...

Dan Wickett

"Or one of those straw wrappers we used to tear into "legs" at the counter in Woolworth's, and twist and then drip water on. The creature would surge (the war is ruining that word), and weave in and out, and inch forward, and finally lie not quite exhausted, still reaching. That's life. That's May's life."

What a great analogy. Thanks for stopping by today Valerie. I've not read Half a Day yet, and as one with a trio still in elementary school, think I may have to hold on a few more years before I do.


Valerie, I haven't read Half A Day but I will definitely read it! That's very heartening to hear about Richard Brickner as well ...

Thalia Syracopoulos

Valerie - as I get closer and closer to May's age I want to say that reading "7 Loves" gave me solace and pain. I look back and see that while life physically went in a continuum it does not seem that way when I actually reflect on the events and people themselves. Whole sections are blurred and others are in stark relief. It takes time to see the connections among seemingly unconnected events/times over the years and "7 Loves" captured that process and its intricacies and subtleties in ways that opened my heart and mind.

The pain comes from realizing that sometimes it is the smallest, least memorable words and events that over time played a large part and yet I was oblivious to their impacts until much too late to change them.

On "time" - Michael Cunningham's "Hours" and Nazim Hikmet's "Human Landscapes" come to mind as unfoldings that captured how much time is not a continuum in the mind.

Thanks for the gift of your work.

Valerie Trueblood

What a lovely comment, Thalia. I do think our minds don't accept ourselves as changing creatures, and some wonderful books show this stubborn, changeless, maybe childish mind. May's mind presented itself to me in this way, hence she wasn't as accomplished or confident as her mother. Eudora Welty shows this mind in her stories, in which the adults sometimes seem to be dressed-up children, and yet some pretty sobering things are going on and they manage them surprisingly well.

I like what Jules Renard said in his Journals, with the balance so characteristic of him despite his awful childhood: "If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more. I did not see properly, and I did not see everything in that little universe in which I was feeling my way."

Lou Oma Durand

Seven Loves is a world. A world with its own laws of time, but like ours. The words taking me into this world are transparent, I mean they do not call attention to the writer, but just take me there. I think that Valerie Trueblood has done that rare, extraordinary thing of creating a world so real that plot, chronology, even perfectly lush/spare poetic prose become forgotten abstractions. We're simply in it - May's life, but more - ours. Her and our experience both accumulates and diminishes. Everything matters.

Valerie Trueblood

Everything matters! That's a perfect phrase for the reality I tried to get at: "mattering" (alias meaning) somehow winning out even when things seem random. Or when they grow out of mistakes (or out of some small, distant move or misstep). Or when they wing by, as in Grace Paley's little story Wants, in which on the way to return library books she encounters her whole life.


Hi, I've just discovered you and what a pleasure. Really thought provoking stuff: it quite raises the standard of blogging.
Does Valerie Trueblood (so impresssed I'm now going to search her books out) have a blog? I have just started my own http// and am now a blog junkie. Unfortunately most are just mindless meanderings, but not this. Thank you. Lucy

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Many cultures have stories describing the origin of the world, which may be roughly grouped into common types. In one type of story, the world is born from a world egg; such stories include the Finnish epic poem Kalevala, the Chinese story of Pangu or the Indian Brahmanda Purana. In related stories, the creation is caused by a single entity emanating or producing something by his or herself, as in the Tibetan Buddhism concept of Adi-Buddha, the ancient Greek story of Gaia (Mother Earth), the Aztec goddess Coatlicue myth, the ancient Egyptian god Atum story, or the Genesis creation myth. In another type of story, the world is created from the union of male and female deities, as in the Maori story of Rangi and Papa.

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Renewal Peterlaurie

Valerie, if you are still reading this, I have read and reread your novel many times now with perfect admiration for every conceivable aspect of craft and grandeur a work of art should attempt to attain, if only for the honor of humanity. Decades after I first knew you, after we seemed to have lost contact forever, I opened Gorky's My Childhood for the first time, in spite of my lifetime resistance to Russians you used to twit me over, in spite of my incapacity for even four pages of your Virginia Wolf without falling dead away asleep, and read it straight through four times, trembling, remembering you and your marvelous prose on every page. Your grasp is exactly his, the casual, even the chaotic, projected so intensely it turns into the majestic, the fatal, the macro-rhythmic, the inevitable. Please forgive me if I say I told you so, but I told you so. I knew you would do something amazing, grand, inspired, inspiring. Now you have. I am not terribly keen on longevity, but I'm glad to have lived long enough to experience you at your best. May you have as long a life as you can stand and may you continue as you have begun to triumph over the world!

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