June 19, 2013

Passing the Torch: Eleanor Stanford on Maureen Foley

Women Float, by Maureen Foley

Historia, Historia, by Eleanor Stanford

Maureen Foley's Women Float is about to enter its second printing! That's come as great news around here, and I'd like to thank everyone for their unusually high interest in this title, and all the nice things you've been saying about it online over the last month. And speaking of which, regulars know that we do an ongoing essay series here called "Passing the Torch," in which I have the author of our previous newest book share some thoughts about what they like about our new newest book; so in this case, that would be Eleanor Stanford, whose Peace Corps memoir Historia, Historia a few weeks ago officially became the biggest selling book in CCLaP's history. Ellie recently had a chance to read through Women Float herself, and here below is what she had to say. Thanks for the kind words, Ellie!

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In her recent memoir Swimming Studies, Leanne Shapton writes, "Water is elemental, it's what we're made of, what we can't live within or without."

Win, the heroine of Maureen Foley's new novella, Women Float, is in some ways the polar opposite of Shapton, who spent much of her childhood in a pool, competing and practicing, and eventually qualifying for the Olympic trials. Win can't swim at all, but the water is nonetheless a powerful presence in her life, both physically (she lives in Southern California) and emotionally, linking her to her absent mother, who first took her in the water, and who lives in Win's imagination as a mermaid, elusive, beautiful, living in a distant, dangerous place where Win can't follow. As she approaches her twenty-ninth birthday, twenty years after her mother left, Win begins receiving mysterious postcards from far flung locales. When a sexy Costa Rican swimming teacher serendipitously appears at the bakery where Win works, and offers to trade swimming lessons for cream puffs, Win is forced to confront fear's paralyzing paradox, and to enter that element that "we're made of, what we can't live within or without."

Foley's writing is captivating and luminous. It captures perfectly a Southern California of golden light and goddess icons, but also one where drought rustles in the hills, and fire ravages the dry brush, "a rooster tail of flames jump[ing] over the top of the nearest slope."

A pleasurable summer read about a young woman adrift and casting about for love and meaning, Women Float will draw you in with its powerful undertow, and its surprising depths.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:38 AM, June 19, 2013. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | Literature | Reviews |