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Mirror Talk Review

Mirror Talk Review


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Published by Helen Winslow Black
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Categories:Types, Reviews, Book
Published by: Helen Winslow Black on Dec 27, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“Mirror Talk” by Barbara Alfaro

A review by Helen Winslow Black
The best gifts often come in small packages, and Barbara Alfaro’s slender 125-page memoir “Mirror Talk” is a small treasure. I can’t decide whether this author is a poet who writes essays, or an essayist who writes poems; jump into the book and decide for yourself. “I exist,” Barbara writes, “in psychological not chronological time … the dual curse and blessing of writers, the true timetravelers.” These stories are full of warmth and wit, and the necessary brutal self-honesty that builds a series of individual recollections into an ever more deeply-moving whole. Life at the Rehearsal Club in Manhattan as an aspiring actress involves quite a bit of waitressing, and the perhaps requisite nervous breakdown (“I wasn’t sure what to wear for a psychiatric evaluation”); a youthful first marriage full of promise inexplicably falls apart; and her Catholic-schooled girlhood seems to sabotage a career at ABC World News—“Barbara Walters told me I’d make a good producer one day if I would just become ‘more aggressive.’” But by finishing college in her forties at Goddard, (a hippie school full of “volatile vegetarians”) she finally achieves confidence in her writing, and moves on to achieve recognition as a poet and playwright—capitalizing on her earlier theater degree and experience. As an author she understands the connections that weave past and present together, and as a poet, illuminates this fabric with a vocabulary fresh and vibrant. There’s an unflinching quality to her writing that reminds me of the late Irish journalist and broadcast personality Nuala O’Faolain’s best-selling memoirs “Are You Somebody?” and “Almost There,” but without the bitter edge. Barbara takes poignant and leads it in the direction of humor (would you meditate on the Marx Brothers while getting an MRI?), in an easy, conversational style that makes for an engaging read. “I keep saying that I’ve never gotten anywhere,” she writes in the closing lines of “Mirror Talk.” Oh, Barbara—you have!
Mirror Talk by Barbara Alfaro, copyright 2010. ISBN 14528978940. Available in print and Kindle editions at http://www.amazon.com. Interact with the author at http://www.scribd.com/BarbaraAlfaro and visit her website at http://www.BarbaraAlfaro.net.

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