Limber by Angela Pelster
Page Count: 154
Size: 5.25″ x 7.75″
Release Date: April 13, 2014
First person to answer a question gets a free copy of Limber!
- In Guy Davenport’s introduction to The Logia of Yeshua he writes that myth “can coincide with truth and be a more vivid and symmetrical presentation of truth.” This was an idea that I kept in the forefront of my mind as I wrote. What role does myth-making and myth unmaking play in Limber?
- Related to the question above: there is a difficult to define space that lives between fiction and fact and it is my favorite place to write from. Strange things happen in these essays – limbs are glued back onto dead trees, fir tress are found in a man’s lung, radio stations change with the movement of the birds, a boy is paralyzed by a freak accident, tree seeds are sent to the moon. Does knowing that these facts are true change your reading experience of the essays? If I had made them up, would your readings of them been different?
- The art of Bartholomaus Traubeck that I mention in the essay “By Way of Beginning” can be found here. Listen to the track entitled “Years” in light of the essay and comment on how it informs your reading of the essay.
- In “Meditations on a Tree Frog” I discuss the evolution of language and the evolution of love. What do these two things have to do with one another?
- When I wrote “How Trees Came to Be in the World” I was trying to write an essay devoid of humans – one that acknowledged the existence and importance of life beyond a human-centric viewpoint. Was I successful? Is this possible?
- One of the questions that essayists who deal in the truth of other people’s lives have to ask themselves is: Should I share this personal information with the public at large? The essay “Saskatoons” is about a boy I worked with in a group home. His family failed him, the system failed him and ultimately, the group home failed him. Does this essay justify the revealing of these personal matters?
- I am a white woman and the boy in “Saskatoons” was a Native Canadian. As a member of the racial majority who has repressed Native peoples for centuries and continues to do so, do I have a right to tell his story? Are there stories that should only be told by those who have experienced them?
- In many ways, “Moon Trees” is the black sheep of this essay family. It embraces fiction more than any other essay, and I flat out lie in the very first sentence. Does it belong in this book? When you read it, did it make you wonder about the truth of the essays that came before it, or after it? What role does this essay play in the entirety of the collection?
- I recently saw one of Vermeer’s paintings for the first time in my life, and it immediately brought me to tears. His commitment to his art despite his poverty, his lack of recognition and the pressing needs of his family were incredible. “Mango” and “Ethan Lockwood” expressly ask the question of how to love the world, or how to find the bit of evidence that “will be made luminous in the beautiful light.” But at the heart of all my essays is Camus’ opening statement from the Myth of Sisyphus, which is, “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.” How do I explore this idea throughout the entirety of the book?
- The enormity of time that has come before this present day is staggering, and it is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Our simultaneous desire to collect artifacts from times and peoples past and our inability to live lives that reflect an awareness of our existence within time – environmental decimation, lack of planning for the future, failure to learn from history’s mistakes – is confusing. Why do we obsess with finding the oldest living trees, the oldest known artifacts, the oldest examples of “civilization” and yet are unable to see ourselves as part of history?
Angela Pelster’s Recommended Reading List
Annie Dillard: Teaching a Stone to Talk – this is one of the first “nature writing” books I ever read and so it will always be important to me for that. I didn’t know what I was reading exactly – I was new to the form – but it floored me, and I knew I wanted more of it and everything like it.
Kathleen Norris: The Cloister Walk – this is a strange collection of essays, meditations, schedules, prayers and hard to define essays that talk about faith and pain and uncertainty, which is to say it is the exact kind of thing I love.
Anne Carson: The Autobiography of Red – Carson is one of the most beautiful and strangest writers I know. She blends myth and contemporary culture in gorgeous narratives and poems that leave my head spinning in blissful, brilliant wonder.
Michael Ondaatje: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid – this is my all time favorite biography. Part fact, part fiction, and part newspaper and part poem, it is an outstanding example of letting content chose its form.
Elizabeth Smart: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – why so few people know of this book is astounding to me. Smart uses Biblical language and imagery to explore the love affair she is trapped in, bending the form to her own needs and making it her own in a passionate, tender and heart-breaking way.
Richard Rodriguez: Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography – this man knows how to “essay” like hardly anyone I’ve ever read. He talks fast, expects the reader to keep up, and weaves and bends and turns without apology and with complete control and mastery of style.
Angela Pelster grew up in rural Alberta where she spent her days catching frogs and making forts out of the old gas tanks and used tires that her mechanic father had stored in the backyard. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing program and her essays have appeared in Granta.com, The Gettysburg Review, Seneca Review, The Globe and Mail, Relief Magazine, and others. Her children’s novel The Curious Adventures of India Sophia won the Golden Eagle Children’s Choice award in 2006. The award was especially good timing, as it sent her on a book tour a week after her house had burned down. She lives with her family in Baltimore and teaches at Towson University.