A Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year
"Brilliant, meditative, and full of surprises, wisdom, and wonder."—Ann Lamott, author of Imperfect Birds
"I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone." This is what Terry Tempest Williams’s mother, the matriarch of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah, told her a week before she died. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as it was to discover that the three shelves of journals were all blank. In fifty-four short chapters, Williams recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence art and in our world. When Women Were Birds is a carefully crafted kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question: What does it mean to have a voice?
I AM FIFTY-FOUR YEARS OLD, the age my mother was when she died. This is what I remember: We were lying on her bed with a mohair blanket covering us. I was rubbing her back, feeling each vertebra with my fingers as a rung on a ladder. It was January, and the ruthless clamp of cold bore down on us outside. Yet inside, Mother's tenderness and clarity of mind carried its own warmth. She was dying in the same way she was living, consciously.
"I am leaving you all my journals," she said, facing the shuttered window as I continued rubbing her back. "But you must promise me that you
Terry Tempest Williams reads the first chapter of When Women Were Birds
Laura Flanders interviews Terry Tempest Williams on GRITtv.
Terry Tempest Williams reads from "When Women Were Birds" June 21, 2012 at ?Bellingham High School? in Bellingham, Washington. This presentation was sponsored by North Cascades Institute and Village Books as part of "The Nature of Writing" series and was attended by more than 400 people.
"At some point I realized I was reading every page twice trying to memorize each insight, each bit of hard-won wisdom. Then I realized I could keep it on my bedside table and read it every night."—Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
Fifty-four Variations on Voice
Terry Tempest Williams