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When You Live by a River

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Same Blood

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Same Blood

      “One would like to use the old critical trumpets to herald a debut like this. Mermer Blakeslee is a mysterious and engaging name, much like the enchanted prose of this first novel. Told in the deceptively simple voice of a poor woman living in the limbo between city and country, this is a tale of defiant resistance to the sterility of our world. Margaret Becker, living on food stamps in the heart of trailer-land, is a single mother who manages to discover the mystery of herself. She invents and saves herself out of the stubborn telling of her life, a life marked brutally by tragedy. How she triumphs, in a poetic swirl of chintzy magic and tragic-comic events, is the success story of her story. Margaret’s adopted family is a collection of misfits wounded by love and exuding it. There is Beulah and Tappen who take in stray children, raise horses, sell plants. There is Doro, the enigmatic tomboy who talks to her horses and practices amateur sorcery. There is Jo, the town prostitute, and Billy, the haunted child. Enveloped in the aroma of Beulah's never-ending cooking, an activity whose beginnings are lost in time, this small family is an outpost of civilization against the world of bureaucratic heartlessness. Same Blood is a compassionate cry for the marginalized people of the countryside, as well as a rather complex love story, involving sexual, magical, and motherly love. This is a woman’s story in a most profoundly unapologetic way. Margaret and Doro love each other with the clarity of people who know the difficulty of love profoundly. They question the social propriety of their passion no more than they question life after death. Love and life to them are both barely possible and undoubtedly eternal. The beauty of Ms. Blakeslee’s original language almost obscures the fact that Same Blood is also a highly polemical treatise in support of ancient female beliefs. Her women are cooks and witches, defenders of children, animals and earth. They believe naturally in the unseen but they practice their healing skills without a pause. The wonder of this short novel is that all the ideas are part and parcel of her character’s voice, Margaret Becker, who articulates the margins so well she goes directly to the mainstream of American Literature.
      The time is right.”

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