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book cover: Lifesaving




By Judith Barrington
Published by The Eighth Mountain Press

ISBN 0-933377-44-4, trade paperback, $13.95
ISBN 0-933377-45-2, cloth, $22.95




Published in Germany in translation by edition fünf.

The cruise ship Lakonia departed Southampton on December 19, 1963, on a Christmas voyage to the Canary Islands. Three days later, north of Madeira, a fire broke out. In the ensuing confusion and panic, a small group of passengers, including the author's parents, were left stranded without lifeboats and drowned. Barrington, just nineteen, left England and went to live in a small town in northern Spain. Lifesaving is the story of those three years, of the people, the places, and of a young woman struggling to become an adult in the shadow of sudden and staggering loss.

PRAISE for Lifesaving

“Throughout her writing is superb; she evokes smalltown Spain under Franco in lush detail with solid philosophical insight into the tragedy that changed her life…. Among the growing number of memoirs, Lifesaving is a gem.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
full review

“In her intelligent, moving memoir, Barrington displays a remarkable clarity about the years when she, recuperating from her parents’ accidental deaths, went off to heal herself in Spain and become a young woman. The author is especially shrewd about the erotic education of her younger self. But what makes this memoir so refreshing is its unillusioned (as opposed to ‘disillusioned’) perspective and wry, dry humor. There is not a trace of self-pity anywhere. The prose is unostentatious and utterly trustworthy; the narrator, excellent company for a voyage of discovery/self-discovery.” —Phillip Lopate

“The picture she draws of the small town in Catalonia is vivid, sensuous, not just the scenery magnificently created but the daily life of the town, the people she meets.…. The writing is spare, precise, poetic when it needs to be. This is the recollection of wild youth from the perspective of a wiser and more integrated mature self, but she does not interfere with our perceptions of her at nineteen and twenty.... It is a memoir of loss that is finally acknowledged while never attempting to depict herself as victim and never attempting to manipulate us into pity.” —Marge Piercy
full review

“Barrington…demonstrates her mastery of words in this coming-of-age story…. What captivates the reader even more than the narrative is the wonderful prose the author employs in describing Spain and her life there.”
Library Journal
full review

Lifesaving is about a life once again saved in and by a writer’s memory.” —PEN/Martha Albrand Award
full review

Lifesaving is a memoirist's memoir, aware from its first words of what it is to recount personal history…. She writes scene after vivid scene, moving from outer to inner landscape seamlessly and with poetic verbal economy.”
The Women’s Review of Books

“Compelling…piercing…rigorous…builds to a stunning resolution. The heart of the book beats powerfully.”
The Oregonian

“Judith Barrington’s Lifesaving achieves a rare balance of narrative restraint and rich storytelling. As a poet, Barrington knows the power of the not-said. She holds us in thrall with the harrowing story of her parents’ tragic drowning death when she was nineteen, yet she never retreats to the indulgence or overtelling that characterizes many memoirs crowding shelves today…. Layered through Barrington’s story of personal transformation is a meditation on the making of stories and the nature of memory, a thread so subtly woven that we are never forced from our immersion in the story. Lifesaving is a remarkable memoir. I savored it first for the story, then reread it to appreciate the finely-wrought structure.” —Joanne Mulcahy

Lifesaving is on our ‘favorites’ shelf. It is one of the best memoirs published in the last few years.”
Black Oak Books, Berkeley

“A real glimpse into a soul struggling to make quiet sense out of an immense tragedy….. I felt the heat, smelled the scents, and could hear the Spanish behind the English. When I finished the book, I felt I’d been with Barrington in Spain, tearing around in her little convertible, my heart heavy with the grief she’d been trying to outrun.
Sandra Bénitez

“Most of all, it was the refrain that struck me: the way the author kept coming back in waves of grief to the single fact of her parents’ drowning. The way she transformed death without shortchanging the grieving process.” —Lucinda Roy

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Distributed to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution and Perseus Distribution. Phone: (800) 283-3572; fax (800) 351-5073; electronic ordering via PUBNET (SAN 631-760X). 
Available through all major wholesalers and library jobbers.

Available in independent, chain, and internet bookstores in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and Europe
, or can be ordered directly from The Eighth Mountain Press, 624 SE 29th Avenue, Ptld, OR 97214; 503 233 3936 phone. No charge for shipping bookrate within the U.S.


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