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In this absorbing coming-of-age memoir by the author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, Norris appeals to every reader's struggle to achieve adulthood, both personally and professionally. She tells of her own transformation via the New York art world of the 1960s and 1970s from a homesick first-year college student to a well-known poet and writer living in South Dakota with a strong sense of literary mission. Like many of her Bennington classmates, Norris moved after college to New York City, where she felt much like "Nick Carraway [adapting]... to the dazzling but dangerous world of the East Coast." Norris landed a job as an assistant to Elizabeth Kray at the Academy of American Poets the center of the poetry world which provided her "an opportunity to attend poetry readings, night after night, for close to five years." While in New York, Norris came into contact with an entire host of famous figures, from the decadent folks at Warhol's Factory to some of the most highly respected poets of the day, like Denise Levertov, Stanley Kunitz and James Wright. While gaining an education in urbanity and sophistication that might have made another soul more cynical and self-destructive, Norris managed to maintain a certain appealing innocence and optimism, evident in her receptivity to new experiences and new people, and her hesitancy to judge others. This inner strength leads her eventually to sever her dependency on Manhattan. Norris writes with warmth, frankness and amazing vividness about formative moments and events in her life, many of which readers especially those with artistic aspirations will be able to identify with and to learn from. (Apr.) Forecast: The strong sales of Norris's earlier books pave the way for this memoir, which should sell handsomely.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Poet and nonfiction author Norris is best known for her memoirs, including Dakota: A Spiritual Geography and The Cloister Walk. In her latest autobiographical installment, she traces her coming-of-age as a writer, from her years as a na ve "outsider" at freethinking Bennington College (1965-69), through her job as a program assistant at the Academy of American Poets (AAP) in New York City, to settling into marriage and an ancestral home in North Dakota in 1974. Large portions of the book detail and eulogize the career of her mentor, Elizabeth (Betty) Kray (1916-87), longtime director of the AAP and an innovator in making poets and their work accessible to the general public. Besides being a tribute to Kray and a meditation on personal growth, Norris's memoir provides an insider's account of early AAP efforts to gain funding for promotion of a Poets-in-the-Schools Program, poetry readings, retreats for writers, and other projects. Straightforward reading, with few highs or lows, this book shifts the focus away from Norris herself and is not as involving as her previous works. Recommended as a general-interest title at academic and public libraries.
- Carol A. McAllister, Coll. Of William & Mary Lib., Williamsburg, VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A valuable history of several decades of poetry and "poetry politics" in the United States. As many other reviewers have noted, the title has little connection, however, to the... Read morePublished on Dec 24 2003 by g3
This book has been poorly reviewed by the professional reviewers, and I believe Kathleen Norris has been badly advised by her editor. Read morePublished on April 23 2002 by Jerry Bakker
Good book to read with a cup of coffee. I would like a sequel please! Perhaps a more detailed look at life after having moved to South Dakota? Just a thought....Published on April 16 2002 by "ihawke88"
If you're looking for a juicy read, this isn't it. If you're looking for more about the author Kathleen Norris, this will provide you with new information about her, but only about... Read morePublished on April 15 2002 by Cara Lynn
The Virgin of Bennington by Kathleen Norris--A Disappointment.
I've read much of the acclaimed fiction produced by the "stars" of Bennington College's literary programs,... Read more
This is less a memoir than two separate books that don't fit together well as one. The opening section, about Norris' feelings of marginality as she enters Bennington and then... Read morePublished on March 9 2002
Don't be misled by the promotion: this book is only 20% coming-of-age memoir. (Although, given how dislikable the author's youthful self is - charmlessly naive, blandly... Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2001 by Eric Krupin
Some fans of Kathleen Norris will no doubt be disappointed in this book. It is not brimming with one spiritual insight after another, unlike her previous nonfiction work. Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2001