ENCORE by May Sarton

ENCORE

A Journal of the Eightieth Year
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 As Gloria Steinem might say, this is what 80 looks like: a pale paean to flowers, food, and friends. Sarton's novel As We Are Now (1973)--a brilliant and moving fictional journal of life (and death) in a nursing home--makes this memoir pallid by comparison, and the problems of inconsequential, lackluster writing that appeared in Sarton's earlier journals of infirmity and old age (Endgame, 1992, etc.) crop up here as well. The life cycle of the flowers on the author's Maine estate are documented in detail; lunches, dinners, and flower arrangements provided by friends and ``fans'' are described exquisitely; pain (apparently caused by intestinal blockage), medication, and visits to the holistic doctor who monitors the author's diet are carefully depicted. Sarton's joy in her cat, her many visitors (especially friend Susan, who frequently comes bearing roses but who isn't otherwise identified), and her fan mail is matched by the burden she feels in answering letters, letting in her cat at 1:00 a.m. (and sometimes again at 4:00 a.m.), and checking the weather. But the last handful of entries here reminds us of Sarton the well- regarded novelist and poet. In them, apparently in response to improving health, she switches from dictating into a tape recorder to writing the day's events, and from simple sentences in which ``wonderful'' is the adjective du jour to a richer, more thoughtful prose style. This is her last journal, Sarton says; her next project will be a novella based on a recent trip to England. Sarton's energy and focus are inspiring--but readers looking for analysis or fresh literary gossip won't find them here. (Photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03529-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993




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