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Goldhammer, in her 50s and newly divorced, stood at the precipice of a new life. Despite the relatively amicable nature of her divorce, she was nevertheless plagued with concerns over finding herself suddenly single in middle age, downwardly mobile, and raising a precocious 12-year-old daughter. The solution, she decided, was to present her daughter with a "bribe" -- six baby chicks to help pave the way from their life in an affluent New England suburb to a small, neglected seaside cottage in an altogether different sort of community.
Her daughter, it turns out, is crazy about the chickens, and so is Goldhammer. And as the birds mature, their growing needs for shelter and sustenance force her to go where no perfectly coiffed suburban housewife ever dared tread; places such as feed and hardware stores, to obtain the hammers, nails, and uncooperative chicken wire needed to construct a coop.
As the little house by the sea slowly takes shape -- courtesy of a small army of kindly plumbers, woodworkers, and other tradesmen -- Goldhammer finds that each obstacle presents an opportunity to grow away from her old life. Both good-humored and tender, Still Life with Chickens beautifully illustrates that in losing those status symbols we chase so vigorously, a life of real joy and graceful dignity may be gained. (Fall 2006 Selection)