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Sister Age

By (author) M. F. K. Fisher
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Vintage Publishing, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Published: 12th Jan 1984
Dimensions: w 130mm h 190mm
Weight: 338g
ISBN-10: 0701127627
ISBN-13: 9780701127626
Barcode No: 9780701127626

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Kirkus US
Fisher's aquiline finesse in spotting and plotting the most vulnerable perimeters and sturdiest cores of personality now invades that most remote of principalities: old age - seen, in a series of pieces published mainly in The New Yorker, primarily as a time of emotional self-sufficiency, entirety. (Fisher reflects on an 1808 painting in which an aged mother supposedly receives the letter announcing her artist/son's death; but "she does not need anything that is not already within her, and the letter of information hangs useless.") One old man - "dry as ditchweed," firmly past wanting help - causes a child's unexpected tears, as sudden and somehow miraculous as those (in another piece) of an aged salesman betrayed into weeping by seeing a mountain. After a sea voyage and the death of an elderly passenger, an unnamed narrator holds the dead woman's tiny, frail, elderly sister, who "sobbed like a rooster crowing. There was nothing ridiculous about it, and as I felt her feathery body pressed so unthinkingly against mine, I knew that I was blessed." (But when the narrator is forced to handle the ugly, intimate death arrangements, which of the women is more disturbed by the intrusions into private grief?.) There are two old men at mellowed erotic pinnacles: a weathered beach-bum sedately proposes marriage and then antically boats mother and two young daughters over billows like "a wicked god"; an aged restorer of fine rugs restores a strong and fresh personal vision to a middle-aged woman with the tribute of gallant scrutiny. There's an acute series of portraits of fiercely surviving, impossible, caste-ridden, incredibly courageous French landladies, drudges, and warrior women-victims of World War II. And there are two particularly twi-lit tales: a middle-aged American's visit to an Anglophile's England, with the netting of lost souls ("tiny and hideous, more like ideas than things"); and a posthumous reunion, exquisitely planned. With an afterword that offers personal notes on death and a final plea to utilize all one's experience (so that "physical annoyances are surmountable in an alert and even mirthful appreciation of life itself"): a masterly collection. (Kirkus Reviews)