DRINKING THE RAIN by Alix Kates Shulman


A Memoir
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 Slight but not unrewarding, this memoir of a feminist's midlife retreat toward nature and spirituality escapes solipsism by virtue of its terse writing and agreeable epiphanies. Shulman, best known for the novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen (1972), centers her narrative on a small house on an island beach in Maine, a cabin she affectionately calls ``the nubble.'' Living there, she strips her life down to the essentials, subsisting on shellfish, wild plants, and the eponymous rainwater, getting perspective on the mad rush of cosmopolitan life. Shulman threatens to make more of her time at the nubble than it warrants: In the absence of tangible links to the events at hand, repeated invocations of her erstwhile participation in the protest and women's movements seem little more than shallow posturing; and on a more mundane level, it hardly seems a revelation that her rural sojourn should cure her of nail-biting. Still, the experiences she shares prove rewarding enough; her story is affecting in spite of her own excessive claims for it. Limpid prose enables Shulman to fashion satisfying episodes from raw material ranging from the preparation of seaweed for the table to the visits of an old friend. Away from the nubble, we follow the author over the course of a decade or so as she divorces, moves to Colorado to take a teaching post, and travels to Europe. Again, her attempts to develop an environmentalist theme fall short, and she doesn't manage to make her workaday writer's life seem real on the page. But friends and family are rounded characters, and her eye for the resonant detail creates scenes that will appeal to her peers. Inconsequentiality seems to be the point here--as readers marooning themselves at their own summer havens will perhaps best understand.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-374-14403-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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