After Eden

Overview

Loss and renewal in the lives of an individual and a community

After Eden is a provocative novel that examines the meaning of home and homelessness among people who see such issues as more than abstractions. In a story populated by Pomo Indians, Euro-American ranchers and vintners, and Mexican American migrant laborers, Valerie Miner deftly juxtaposes differing cultural views of wilderness, trespassing, and home. Her dramatic novel is ...

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Overview

Loss and renewal in the lives of an individual and a community

After Eden is a provocative novel that examines the meaning of home and homelessness among people who see such issues as more than abstractions. In a story populated by Pomo Indians, Euro-American ranchers and vintners, and Mexican American migrant laborers, Valerie Miner deftly juxtaposes differing cultural views of wilderness, trespassing, and home. Her dramatic novel is contemporary, while reflecting on two centuries of change in a seemingly Edenic place.

Looking forward to relief from her job as a city planner in Chicago, Emily Adams begins a much-needed vacation at her Northern California cabin. But the sudden death of her life partner forces her to re-examine personal commitments. Caught up in reflection, she comes to understand the intricacies of life in her pastoral retreat—complexities that she had never before considered.

In the modern-day Eden of California’s coastal range, Emily finds conflict all around her: between loggers and environmentalists, farmworkers and immigration authorities, newcomers establishing a lesbian community and long-time residents clinging to traditional ways.

As Emily learns to overcome grief, her story moves from loss to renewal for both the individual and the community. A decidedly feminist view of the New West, After Eden weaves lyrical prose with a different look at “family values” and what it really means to be human.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In her eighth novel, Miner (Range of Light, 1998, etc.) celebrates friendship among a group of lesbians in rural California. Serious, reserved Emily and ebullient Salerno met in a lesbian bar in Berkeley. A perfect match, they've been partners for 15 years. Fifty-year-old Emily is a city planner in Chicago, the somewhat younger Salerno a jazz saxophonist. They, along with three female friends, bought a ranch in the hills of Northern California, each building separate houses (in Emily and Salerno's case, a one-room cabin). Emily has just arrived for a vacation when she learns that Salerno, returning from a gig in Arizona, has died in a plane crash. Emily is devastated, and the novel details her grief. But her loss is transcended by the warm camaraderie of her Beulah Ranch friends. Her first thought is to sell her portion of the ranch (she gets help from her brother Michael, a real-estate lawyer in San Francisco), but her friends are aghast. They love her. She must stay. The reader knows before Emily does that she is here for keeps. The reader also knows before Emily that Eva, the young Latina forest ranger with "the rich caramel-colored skin and the hazel-almost golden-eyes," will provide Emily with more than just friendship. As an antidote to the abundant sweetness of the group, and in lieu of a plot, Miner describes threats to their idyllic existence: a rash of fires set by an arsonist, obnoxious evangelicals pushing Creationism, loggers intent on clear-cutting. Miner also gets some mileage out of an Indian artifact Emily discovers on her land. In this righteous work, in which it's cool to be ethnic but not a WASP (Emily resents that she's half-WASP), she naturally donates it to the Pomoreservation. Miner does much better with her evocation of place than with her characterizations, which are shallow.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806138145
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2007
  • Series: Literature of the American West Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Miner is the award-winning author of thirteen books Her new novel, After Eden, is published in the ?Literature of the American West Series? by the University of Oklahoma Press. Other novels include Range of Light, A Walking Fire, Winter's Edge, Blood Sisters, All Good Women, Movement: A Novel in Stories, and Murder in the English Department. Her short fiction books include Abundant Light, The Night Singers and Trespassing. Her collection of essays is Rumors from the Cauldron: Selected Essays, Reviews and Reportage.

Valerie Miner?s work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Salmagundi, New Letters, Ploughshares, The Village Voice, Prairie Schooner, The Gettysburg Review, Conditions, The T.L.S., The Women?s Review of Books, The Nation and other journals. Her stories and essays are published in more than sixty anthologies. Her collaborative work includes books, museum exhibits as well as theatre. A number of her pieces have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4.

She has won fellowships and awards from The Rockefeller Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The NEA, The Jerome Foundation, The Heinz Foundation, The Australia Council Literary Arts Board and numerous other sources. She has had Fulbright Fellowships to Tunisia, India and Indonesia.

Winner of a Distinguished Teaching Award, she has taught for over twenty-five years and is now an artist-in-residence and professor at Stanford University. She travels internationally giving readings, lectures and workshops. She and her partner live in San Francisco and Mendocino County, California

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