Landslide: True Stories by Minna Zallman Proctor
"Proctor's essays fold time in on itself in order to explore the ways in which past and present overlap and merge." —NPR
"[Zallman] has crafted an affecting elegy for a complicated and contradictory mother and an insightful ode to the unknowable." —Publishers Weekly
“Landslide is that rare book that somehow succeeds in being both knowing and open-hearted, both formally sly and emotionally direct. Its timeless subjects—grief, storytelling, the giving up of childish things—are rendered in ways that are as movingly honest as they are probing and unfamiliar. A swift, compelling read.” —Adam Haslett, author of Imagine Me Gone
Minna Zallman Proctor's Landslide is a captivating collection of interconnected personal essays. These “true stories” explore the author’s complicated relationship with her mother—who was diagnosed with cancer at age fifty-seven and died fifteen years later—and the ways in which their connection was long the “prime mover” of Proctor’s life, the subtle force coursing beneath her adulthood. As such, Proctor’s vibrant essays also narrate the trials and triumphs of her own life—shifting between America and Italy (and loving “being a foreigner, the constant sense of unfamiliarity that supplanted all of my expectations and disappointments”), the bumpy start and quick dissolution of her first marriage, the profound pleasure she takes in motherhood, the love and resentment she feels in a reigning friendship from her youth, and the confounding experience of trying to arrange a Jewish burial for her “Jewish, not quite Jewish” mother.
Proctor has an integrity and humor that is never extinguished despite life’s mounting difficulties. She also slyly questions her own narrative throughout. “Not having told this story before means I never fixed many details in my memory,” she writes. “[I] have to rely on flashes, the transparent stills that hang in [my] mind, made of smell, the way the light casts, the wind on [my] skin.” The essays in this book are a sharply intelligent exploration of what happens when death and divorce unmoor you from certainties, and about the unreliable stories we tell ourselves, and others, in order to live.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Minna Zallman Proctor is a writer, critic, and translator who currently teaches creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she is also editor in chief of The Literary Review. She is also the author of Do You Hear What I Hear? An Unreligious Writer Investigates Religious Calling and has translated eight books from Italian, including Fleur Jaeggy’s These Possible Lives (forthcoming from New Directions in July 2017). She lives in Brooklyn.