Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses – Dederer, Claire
Dederers humor is tangy and precision-aimed; her targets are the sine qua non of memoirs: mothers and marriage. A book reviewer and social critic with bylines in the New York Times, Slate, and Vogue, Dederer acidly deconstructs hip, politically correct Seattle, a very different place than the city she grew up in during the 1970s. As she looks back to her ambiguous family situationher mother fell in love with a hippie but stayed married to, though separated from, her remarkably tolerant husbandDederer contrasts womens flight from the soul-shriveling domesticity of that era with the rise of the super-stressed-out supermom, as women feel compelled to do everything perfectly in every sphere. As Dederer entered the precinct of motherhood, she took up yoga, the inspiration for this cleverly yogacentric memoir. If only it wasnt repetitive and disingenuous, making her a bit of a poseur as well as a poser. Still, Dederer writes superbly and offers sharp insights into family dynamics as well as hatha yogas impact on American life, the focus of a growing number of groundbreaking books.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)
Kirkus Reviews (10/01/2010):
Enjoyable memoir about life and the provocations of childbirth made palatable with yoga poses.
Critic and essayist Dederer describes herself as a “self-conscious, hair-adjusting kind of person,” just the type to dismiss yoga and its purported physical- and mental-health benefits. She thought the exercise regimen was tailor-made only for “white people seeking transformation,” but when her back seized after lifting her newborn daughter, the many folks recommending yoga didn’t seem so crazy after all. Raising her daughter with her intermittently distant husband, also a writer, in a white, liberal, “well-intentioned” Seattle neighborhood proffered its own set of challenges, so she embraced yoga as part of a self-betterment project. Though some of the poses, Dederer wryly admits, seemed “porny,” and she digested its spiritual and metaphysical aspects with “an agnostic’s indifference,” the ten years that followed were transformational. Her three best friends—a new mother with bohemian ideals, a risk-taking young mother and a childless artist—provided support through the writer’s episodes of insecurity, the birth of her second child and a hilarious one-time attempt at pregnancy yoga (“nine ladies lying on the floor in a sunny room, farting”). The family’s big move to Colorado offered a cleansing breath of fresh air. Dederer’s bittersweet childhood and adult life is consistently engrossing and never becomes overshadowed by an eccentric family (though there’s great potential). The author’s parents are legally married, yet her mother has had a boyfriend for 25 years, and her brother is a former alternative-rock musician turned public-relations guru who insists that his parents get divorced. Through “coronal planes,” sutras and savasanas, from downward dog to lotus poses, Dederer contributes nuggets of yoga trivia paired with a droll, self-effacing delivery that’s both down-to-earth and pleasingly introspective.
Delicious fun with a friendly nudge for readers on the fence about yoga.
(COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Publishers Weekly (11/29/2010):
“I have never been good at sports; I always feel like a spectator even in the middle of the game,” writes freelance writer Dederer about her initial reluctance to attend a yoga class. But despite her misgivings and her “defiance of my longtime policy of never entering a structure adorned with Tibetan prayer flags,” Dederer makes it through that first class to develop a strong commitment to yoga in addition toand sometimes despiteraising two children, coping with a husband struggling with depression, finding time to write, along with a demanding extended family and a move from her native Seattle to Colorado. With lighthearted humor and a touch of irony, Dederer introduces her readers to the culture of motherhood in north Seattle during the late 1990s, a place populated by clog-wearing attachment-parenting women whom Dederer simultaneously disdained and embraced. Each chapter is titled after a different yoga pose as Dederer recounts the challenging births of her children and reflects upon her own emotionally difficult childhood and adolescence during the 1970s. Dederer’s memoir, like a challenging yoga class, flows smoothly and shows by example that a full life is one that is constantly in motion. (Jan.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
“[A] fine first memoir, and it’s heartening to see a serious female writer take such a risky step into territory where writers of literary ambition fear to tread, lest they be dismissed as trivial . . . [What] makes “Poser” work on a lot of levels is that first in line to ask searching questions and poke fun is the author herself . . . “Poser” is a powerful, honest, ruefully funny memoir about one woman’s openhearted reckoning with her demons . . . In the hands of a gifted writer, the universal is embedded within the personal. Guess what? Your bad wallpaper made for a lovely book.” –Dani Shapiro, “The New York Times Book Review
“”Let me be honest about something: I love yoga, I live for yoga, and yoga has changed my life forever–but it is very difficult to find books about yoga that aren’t incredibly annoying. I’m sorry to say it, but yoga sometimes makes people talk like jerks. Thank goodness, then, for Claire Dederer, who has written the book we all need: the long-awaited funny, smart, clear-headed, thoughtful, truthful, and inspiring yoga memoir. To simplify my praise: I absolutely loved this book.” –Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love
“”Why did Claire Dederer take up yoga? Short answer: for the same kinds of reasons that Elizabeth Gilbert changed her life in “Eat, Pray, Love,” and to much the same funny, charming, self-deprecating, stealthily inspirational and (quite possibly) best-selling effect . . . This appealing writer’s first book is long overdue. It’s clear from the start that she will be transformed and find a sensible, spiritual nonsappy way to become a devotee before “Poser” is over.”” –“Janet Maslin, ” The New York Times
“”This memoir about [Dederer’s] decade doing downward dog while raising two kids and trying to keep her marriage alive reads like “Eat, Pray, Love” for hip but harried moms . . . Funny, well-observed and ultimately inspiring.” –“People” (four stars)
“This book is going to be big. Claire De
Claire Dederer’s essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in “Vogue, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Yoga Journal, Real Simple, The Nation” and in newspapers around the country. She has taught writing at the University of Washington. A fourth-generation Seattle native, she lives with her family on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound.
“The studio was decorated in the style of Don’t Be Afraid, We’re Not a Cult. All was white and blond and clean, as though the room had been designed for surgery, or Swedish people. The only spot of color came from the Tibetan prayer flags strung over the doorway into the studio. In flagrant defiance of my longtime policy of never entering a structure adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, I removed my shoes, paid my ten bucks, and walked in . . .
“Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out while breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love.
Over the next decade, she would tackle triangle, wheel, and the dreaded crow, becoming fast friends with some poses and developing long-standing feuds with others. At the same time, she found herself confronting the forces that shaped her generation. Daughters of women who ran away to find themselves and made a few messes along the way, Dederer and her peers grew up determined to be good, good, good–even if this meant feeling hemmed in by the smugness of their organic-buying, attachment-parenting, anxiously conscientious little world. Yoga seemed to fit right into this virtuous program, but to her surprise, Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife–and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy.
“Poser “is unlike any other book about yoga you will read–because it is actually a book about life. Witty and heartfelt, sharp and irreverent, “Poser “is for anyone who has ever tried to stand on their head while keeping both feet on the ground.
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