Catalogue


Willow Temple : new & selected stories /
Donald Hall.
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
description
210 p.
ISBN
0618329811
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
isbn
0618329811
catalogue key
4844949
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Donald Hall, the author of more than a dozen books of poems and of prose, was most recently the recipient of the New England Booksellers Association's President's Award. He has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry, among many other honors. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
1 From Willow Temple We lived on a farm outside Abigail, Michigan, when I was a girl in the 1930s. My father was a Latin teacher, which was how I came to be called Camilla. I cannot say that I have lived up to the name of Virgil's warrior. My father served as principal of Abigail High School, and we kept chickens and horses on our flat and scrubby land near the Ohio line. My father's schoolwork kept him busy, so we employed a succession of hired hands for chores around the farm. Many were drunks. A weekly rite, when I was small, was for my father to pay a fine on Monday morning-six a.m., before school- and drive the befuddled, thirsty, shamefaced hired man back home. When the advances for fines grew monstrous, so that our man was indentured a month ahead, he hopped a freight west. In hard times the quality of help increased, even as my father's salary and the price of eggs went down; he hired strong young men for three dollars a week, some of them sober. The poverty of those years touched everyone, even a protected child. I remember tramps coming to the back door; I remember men with gray faces whom my mother succored with milk and buttered bread. I can see one of them now, preserved among the rest because he addressed me rather than my mother. "It's hard, little girl. Could you spare a crust, little girl?" The house was my mother's house. She was Ella, the bright face of our family, beautiful and lively-a lover of horses, poetry, and jokes. People said, lightly, that she married my father to hold herself down. I grew up loving my quiet father with a love that was equally quiet: I desperately loved my serene, passionate mother. What a beauty she was. When I see reproduced a Saturday Evening Post cover from the 1930s, I see my mother's face: regular features, not large but strong; bold cheekbones with good coloring; dark short hair; fullish lips deeply red without lipstick; large blue eyes, staring outward with a look both shy and flirtatious. When my mother walked into a group of strangers, the room hushed. She had grown up with four sisters, isolated on a backcountry farm in Washtenaw County. The Great War was only a distant rumor. Her childhood was a clutch of girls, a female conspiracy on a remote, patchy forty acres, in a domain of one-room schools where half the pupils belonged to her own tribe. They made one another clothespin dolls for Christmas; they sewed and did fancywork in competition for their stepmother's praise; they passed their dreams and their dresses on to one another. How I wanted a little sister to pass my dresses and dolls on to! When my mother told me stories from her childhood, I heard themes repeated: The family was self- sufficient (I grew up reading and rereading The Swiss Family Robinson) and "got by on little." When she spoke of their genuine simplicity, she spoke with wonder not with bitterness; she didn't make me feel guilty over my relative comfort. The Hulze farm never prospered as the Battell's-my father's family-did for decades. The land was poor, and to survive by your own labor on your own land was triumph enough. Another theme was death, for she had lost a baby sister to a fever at eighteen months; and her mother, Patience, died of diabetes, not long before the discovery of insulin, when my mother was nine. Two years later she acquired a stepmother, my grandmother Huldah, who was kindly but fierce, with a Christianity modeled on Massachusetts Bay in the seventeenth century. Like my father, my mother was an eldest child; she mothered her younger sisters, even after Huldah's access, as Huldah quickly bore Herman Hulze two more daughters. Life at the Hu
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-04-15:
This book collects six stories from 1987's The Ideal Bakery and six written more recently by noted poet Hall. Common themes include the power of memory, uneasy relations between social classes, and infidelity. "From Willow Temple" is a beautifully realized account of a marriage over time, told from a daughter's perspective. A similar structure is used to less effect in "New England Primer"; the broad expanse of time covered distances the reader from the emotional weight of the story. "The Ideal Bakery" perfectly captures the psychological purpose of a happy memory, though so subtly that the story's theme only becomes clear in its final paragraph. Hall's writing is traditional in style, though "Argument and Persuasion" has a unique and clever structure. The several outstanding stories in the collection make up for those that are less successful. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2003-03-31:
Celebrated poet and essayist Hall maintains the restrained, elegant style that established him as a master of his craft in the 1987 collection The Ideal Bakery, adding seven new stories to the five entries from the earlier collection. The title story sets the tone as a woman narrates her childhood memories of witnessing her mother's infidelity with a farm worker on their Ohio farm, an incident that led to her divorce from the girl's father, a distant classics teacher. "The First Woman" offers an equally painful take on the aftermath of love when a chronic womanizer reencounters his first conquest, who exposes the emptiness of his life after he inadvertently insults her during their reunion. New England figures prominently as a setting in several stories: "New England Primer" is a multilayered account of a man's generational ties to his family and upbringing, while "Widowers' Woods" is an evocative account of a man's memories of his time with his late wife, recalled as he walks through the woods near their former home. The only recurring character is David Bardo, who turns up in more than one entry-most notably in "Roast Suckling Pig," as he embarks on a long-term, problematic affair with a duplicitous woman named Alma Trust. Hall can be a bit distant in his narrative approach, but his ability to maintain continuity while weaving together complex story lines remains superb, and his judicious use of irony is always effective. The consistently elegiac tone fixes the collection on a single emotional note, but this is a first-rate work by an author whose control over the tools of his genre is impeccable. (May 6) Forecast: Hall's name is well-known in literary circles around the country, but local New England sales will be most substantial. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"...[T]his is a first-rate work by an author whose control over the tools of his genre is impeccable."
"...[T]his is a first-rate work by an author whose control over the tools of his genre is impeccable." Publishers Weekly "Hall is a master of the patterns we only see when looking back." --Susan Salter Reynolds Los Angeles Times "Like Thomas Hardy...Hall balances on sorrow's edge by virtue of an old-fashioned rigor; he never slips into self-pity on one side or sentimentality over the past on the other..." --Matthew Flamm The New York Times Book Review
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, March 2003
Booklist, April 2003
Library Journal, April 2003
New York Times Book Review, May 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Willow Temple, combining six of the most "notable and moving stories" (Robert Taylor, Boston Globe) from the 1987 collection The Ideal Bakery with six new stories written in the years since, is Donald Hall's most important short fiction collection to date. "From Willow Temple" is the indelible story of a child's witness of her mother's adultery and of the earlier shocking loss that underlies it. The other stories, too, are reminiscent of Alice Munro and William Maxwell in their mastery of form, their deeply observed portrayals of the interior worlds of only children, and their ability to trace the emotional fault lines connecting generations. In three stories we see David Bardo at crucial junctures of his life, beginning as a child drawn to his parents' "cozy adult coven of drunks" and growing into a young man whose intense first affair undergirds a lifelong taste for the heady mix of ardor and betrayal. Hall's short stories give a "breathtakingly successful" (Chicago Tribune) account of the passionate weight of lives.
Main Description
A contemplative selection of twelve short stories from the celebrated author Donald Hall, Willow Temple focuses on the effects of divorce, adultery, and neglect. Hall's stories are reminiscent of those of Alice Munro and William Maxwell in their mastery of form and their ability to trace the emotional fault lines connecting generations. "From Willow Temple" is the indelible story of a child's witness of her mother's adultery and the loss that underlies it. Three stories present David Bardo at crucial junctures of his life, beginning as a child drawn to his parents' "cozy adult coven of drunks" and growing into a young man whose intense first affair undergirds a lifelong taste for ardor and betrayal. In this superbly perceptive collection, Hall gives memorable accounts of the passionate weight of lives.
Table of Contents
From Willow Templep. 1
The Accidentp. 32
The First Womanp. 40
Christmas Snowp. 59
Lake Paradisep. 77
The Figure of the Woodsp. 88
The Ideal Bakeryp. 110
Roast Suckling Pigp. 120
Widowers' Woodsp. 145
Argument and Persuasionp. 155
The Fifth Boxp. 181
New England Primerp. 184
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

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