Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.   

My take: 4 looks
Finally, a "woman of a certain age" as the heroine. Rebecca is 60 years old, very flawed, and coming to the end of life as she has known it. While she does pick herself up by the bootstraps, she doesn't do so in a manufactured-confident way. She questions her decisions at every turn, moving forward as a real woman would, one step at a time.

Throughout the story, we see Rebecca grow into herself. She finds a strength in body and mind that she didn't know she had, and taps into that to finally morph into what her persona always exuded.

The story itself is a nice romantic comedy, but that takes a back seat to the characters in this one. From a star-struck café owner to a blue collar worker-cum-suitor to a clown who uses Rebecca as inspiration to reach for his own dreams, this book is full of real characters with whom you want to spend time.

And the photographs. The descriptions of the photographs are so lush and graphic that I felt as if I could actually see them. Simple in their presentation, but expertly drawn, the black and white offspring of Rebecca's talented eye were full and robust to me.

The only drawback to this book, and the reason for not receiving a full "5", is a bit of jaggedness in the writing. It does not follow a linear format, which is fine, but the edges between the two are so sudden that it hindered the flow and caused some confusion. Stream-of-consciousness is a fine method, but there needs to be a visual break in the text for the reader to be able to make the transition. In this book, I had to stop several times, reread and figure out where the breaks were. While it didn't impact the story, it did impact the reading experience.

However, that was very minor compared to the exquisite story and characters in this book. Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment