What the Stones Remember: A Life Rediscovered [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this exquisitely written memoir, poet Patrick Lane describes his raw and tender emergence at age sixty from a lifetime of alcohol and drug addiction. He spent the first year of his sobriety close to home, tending his garden, where he cast his mind back over his life, searching for the memories he'd tried to drown in vodka. Lane has gardened for as long as he can remember, and his garden's life has become inseparable from his own. A new bloom on a plant, a skirmish among the birds, the way a tree bends in the ...

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What the Stones Remember: A Life Rediscovered

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Overview

In this exquisitely written memoir, poet Patrick Lane describes his raw and tender emergence at age sixty from a lifetime of alcohol and drug addiction. He spent the first year of his sobriety close to home, tending his garden, where he cast his mind back over his life, searching for the memories he'd tried to drown in vodka. Lane has gardened for as long as he can remember, and his garden's life has become inseparable from his own. A new bloom on a plant, a skirmish among the birds, the way a tree bends in the wind, and the slow, measured change of seasons invariably bring to his mind an episode from his eventful past.
What the Stones Remember

is the emerging chronicle of Lane's attempt to face those memories, as well as his new self—to rediscover his life. In this powerful and beautifully written book, Lane offers readers an unflinching and unsentimental account of coming to one's senses in the presence of nature.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Tending a garden was not what occupied poet Patrick Lane for the first six decades of his life. Forty-five years of drinking was occupation enough. But at age 60, he stepped back into the world of sobriety while seeding, planting, and watering the garden that became his passion and his salvation. Like Mary Oliver, Lane discovers that much can be learned from the natural world, and his exquisite powers of observation provide not only a source of wonder but a new vantage point from which to face the painful memories of his past. Fragments of his upbringing -- a nightmarish childhood in a small Canadian mining town, the early death of his brother, and the murder of his father -- spill onto the pages unbeckoned. "Somewhere there is a story that needs telling," Lane writes, and the story that emerges yields surprising lessons in both promise and regret.

Marriage, divorce, and estrangement from his own children are all part of what Lane remembers as he seeks to re-engage with life, using the tending of his garden as a metaphor for tilling the soil of his days. Adept at finding inspiration outside his back door, Lane has recorded these first few months of his newfound clarity without pity or sentimentality. A modern-day book of wisdom literature, What the Stones Remember is an extraordinary work, profoundly moving in its immediacy and courage. (Holiday 2005 Selection)
Frances Itani
The overall impression is that of a man who knows much and who is stepping softly. He moves through his garden with fear and quiet exultation. His memories are never self-pitying, but there is a sorrowful beauty to the strong, poetic language. Despite the savage reality of the revelations, there is a peacefulness, a maturity of vision that is a pure gift to the reader.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In January 2001, Canadian poet Lane emerged from two months in an addiction treatment center, sober after 45 years of steady, heavy drinking and drug use. He had to learn to live with a raw new self at age 62, and this book, part memoir, part diary, told month by month, chronicles his first year, retrieves his past and records the seasonal cycle of the garden he tends on Vancouver Island. Lane's parents were both alcoholics from mill and mining towns where heavy drinking and family brutality were normal. His impressionistic memories, painful and poetic, probe the secrets of his younger self. Lane's now-dead mother, beautiful, overworked with five children, unfaithful to his father during WWII, a gardener herself and quite mad for part of her life, haunts him literally-he sees her in the garden at hallucinatory moments-and at the end of this extraordinary year he brings himself to forgive her. The signal event of this period is Lane's marriage in August to his longtime companion, poet Lorna Crozier, but readers will find that almost incidental to Lane's remarkable nature writing: animals, birds and insects, flowers, moss and trees are as vivid as memory. Agent, Kathryn Mulders. Author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In spring 2001, Canadian writer Lane (There Is a Season) completed two months of treatment for a 45-year addiction to drugs and alcohol. His first year of sobriety, chronicled in this powerful memoir, often finds the author in his beloved garden on Vancouver Island, where there are few people and places to distract from the rhythm of the seasons. Like Thoreau, he finds strength in nature and simplicity. Through his patient and precise observation of insects, plants, animals, and birds, he offers keen insights into the burdens of the past and the promise of the present. Lane's prose is as rich in its poetic power as the sense of renewal found in his garden. He moves effortlessly from moments of radiant joy to memories of aching pain (e.g., regarding his father's murder, his failed marriages, and his failed attempts to end his own life). At once courageous, honest, and uplifting, this book of wisdom and wonder should be savored. Appropriate for public and academic libraries.-Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“In the sure and steady hands of a writer at the peak of his power, it is an achingly beautiful journey. There is a sorrowful beauty to the strong, poetic language. Despite the savage reality of the revelations, there is a peacefulness, a maturity of vision that is a pure gift to the reader.”—The Washington Post

“It is clear that in these vivid, intersecting worlds of nature and language, Lane has found true self-expression and a certain transcendence from the pain he seems destined to carry with him always.”—Seattle Times

What the Stones Remember is a dark and beautiful memoir. Lane, ever the poet, exudes an elegance in his writing even when describing brutality.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“At once courageous, honest, and uplifting, this book of wisdom and wonder should be savored.”—Library Journal

"The sort of memoir you will leave open beside a favorite chair, and you will read it, I think, with long pauses to savor the beauty of the language and to reflect on its relevance for your own journey."—The Globe and Mail 

“To read this book is to enter a state of enchantment.”—Alice Munro

“Patrick Lane has written a memoir of heartbreaking struggle that manages to be beautiful and encouraging, finding anchorage in what was once called Creation, the natural world and its unstinting promise of renewal.”—Thomas McGuane

“A tough, lovely book.”—Margaret Atwood

“There are scenes in this book so terrifyingly beautiful they take your breath away. Patrick Lane guides us across a grueling landscape with a steady hand. This is a tremendous contribution by an author at the peak of his power.”—Alistair MacLeod

“This is the best book I’ve read in a decade. Here is a classic memoir, wrought in prose as beautiful as the natural world that is his obsession and salvation.”—Guy Vanderhaeghe

“This is a record of recovery. Of a life, nearly lost, out of the dark into memory; of spiritual wholeness through a poet’s attentiveness, season after season, to his garden—a real one. Only a writer of Patrick Lane’s savage but forgiving vision could accomplish both in the same breath, and with such breathtaking beauty and power.”—David Malouf

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834826953
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,175,832
  • File size: 570 KB

Meet the Author

Considered to be one of the finest poets of his generation, Patrick Lane has authored more than twenty-five books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and children's poetry. He has received most of Canada's top literary awards and a number of grants and fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts. His writing appears in all major Canadian anthologies of English literature. His gardening skills and have been featured in the Recreating Eden television series. Lane has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto, Concordia University in Montreal, the University of Ottawa, and the University of Alberta. He presently teaches part-time at the University of Victoria. He lives in British Columbia, with his wife, the poet Lorna Crozier.

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Read an Excerpt


I
am withdrawing from the scourge of forty-five years of drinking. Two months ago
I stumbled into a treatment center for alcohol and drug addiction. Now, I am barely detoxed. Standing here among the swordferns my senses seem to be thin glass, so acute at their edges I am afraid I will cut myself simply by touching the silicon edge of a bamboo leaf. The flicker's blade of beak as it slices into the apple makes me wince. My hands are pale animals. The smallest sounds,
a junco flitting between verbena leaves, a drop of water falling on the cedar deck, make me cringe. I can smell the bitter iron in the mosses on the apple tree's branches. My flesh at times is in agony, and I feel as if I have come out from some shadowed place into light for the first time. I feel, for the first time in years, alive.

The opal drop of water the chickadee drank is no different than the droplet at the tip of a bare apple tree bud that I lift my hand to. I extend my trembling finger and the water slides onto my fingernail. I lift it to my lips and take a sip of what was once fog. It is a single cold on the tip of my tongue. I feel I
am some delicate creature come newly to this place for, though I know it well,
I must learn again this small half-acre of land with its intricate beauties,
its many arrangements of earth, air, water, and stone.

The garden begins with my body. I am this place, though I feel it at the most attenuated level imaginable. Once dead, I am come alive again. Forty-five years of addiction and I am a strangeling in this simple world. To be sober, to be without alcohol and drugs in my cells, is new to me and every thing near me is both familiar and strange.

The chickadee is back on the bird feeder staring at me with cocky delight.
Welcome,
he seems to say.
Where have you been?


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