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A curious combination of diaristic autobiography and ersatz Passages that outlines a way down a road few will willingly travel. Koller's An Unknown Woman (1981) consisted of writings composed in 1962-63, when she spent three months alone on Nantucket with her German shepherd pup, Logos, and chronicled a critical period in her life. Then 37 and adrift, she sought her ""own truth"" and emerged knowing three things: ""Logos is of my heart. I need to live by the sea or other wildness. I possessed a passion and a perfect eye for color."" Determined to make a life based on these ""basic truths"" and the few others that would follow, she--as described here--struggled to find ways to make a living that would enable her to spend her days with Logos and her other dogs, give her time to ""write her thoughts,"" and otherwise live as she pleased. The ""stations"" she writes of--""Unbinding, Homing, Moneying, Connecting, Recessing,"" etc.--are guidelines of a sort, but whatever value they might have on their own is undermined by the personal anecdotes that comprise 80% of the book. These describe in minute detail the only part of her life that apparently ever held much meaning for her--her life with Logos and her two other dogs. She has ""thousands of slides and photos"" of Logos, who was not only her ""best friend"" but seemingly replaced husband, child, and lover. When he died at 12 of uremia, her grief was inconsolable: ""I have mourned. . .I have spent hours, days, crying, yelling, raging, punching walls, floors, calling out Logos' name, all his names that he will never hear again."" Koller describes this agony in lengthy and shameless detail, including a blow-by-blow account of how she spent five years and $30,000 on a malpractice suit against the vets unfortunate enough to have Logos on their hands when he died. While extolling solitude and its glorious possibilities, Koller much more convincingly demonstrates the dangers of isolation.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1990
Publisher: Morrow