Sunday, November 04, 2007

FINDING LILY by Richard Clewes (2006)

Clewes moderated a panel of male writers recently at IFOA and in spite of David Gilmour's petulance and determination to sink their collective ship of discourse, Clewes remained gracious. His good manners led me to pick up his memoir FINDING LILY which chronicles his journey after the suicide of his wife Erin.

FINDING LILY is a little piece of perfection like Calvin Trillin's ABOUT ALICE. Both men unabashedly chronicle their feelings about the women they loved and how life in the void of their deaths is changed utterly, to quote Yeats.

Unlike Trillin, Clewes decides to travel in search of self and in search of the why that culminated in Erin's death when she flung herself from her mother's balcony. Part of Clewes's journey leads him to filling sketchbooks with daily observations and mailing postcards to himself to affirm his existence.

Jim Harrison wrote that this "is an engrossing book. It is one thing when a mate dies and quite another when the reason is suicide, which calls existence into severe question. Clewes struggles, and I think, succeeds, which means he finally understands. This is the most anyone can hope for."

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