POSER by Claire Dederer


My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses
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Enjoyable memoir about life and the provocations of childbirth made palatable with yoga poses.

Critic and essayist Dederer describes herself as a “self-conscious, hair-adjusting kind of person,” just the type to dismiss yoga and its purported physical- and mental-health benefits. She thought the exercise regimen was tailor-made only for “white people seeking transformation,” but when her back seized after lifting her newborn daughter, the many folks recommending yoga didn’t seem so crazy after all. Raising her daughter with her intermittently distant husband, also a writer, in a white, liberal, “well-intentioned” Seattle neighborhood proffered its own set of challenges, so she embraced yoga as part of a self-betterment project. Though some of the poses, Dederer wryly admits, seemed “porny,” and she digested its spiritual and metaphysical aspects with “an agnostic’s indifference,” the ten years that followed were transformational. Her three best friends—a new mother with bohemian ideals, a risk-taking young mother and a childless artist—provided support through the writer’s episodes of insecurity, the birth of her second child and a hilarious one-time attempt at pregnancy yoga (“nine ladies lying on the floor in a sunny room, farting”). The family’s big move to Colorado offered a cleansing breath of fresh air. Dederer’s bittersweet childhood and adult life is consistently engrossing and never becomes overshadowed by an eccentric family (though there’s great potential). The author’s parents are legally married, yet her mother has had a boyfriend for 25 years, and her brother is a former alternative-rock musician turned public-relations guru who insists that his parents get divorced. Through “coronal planes,” sutras and savasanas, from downward dog to lotus poses, Dederer contributes nuggets of yoga trivia paired with a droll, self-effacing delivery that’s both down-to-earth and pleasingly introspective.

Delicious fun with a friendly nudge for readers on the fence about yoga.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-374-23644-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2010


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