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A Geometry of Lilies
Life and Death in an American Family

Steven Harvey


Steven Harvey believes Thoreau was wrong when he called on us to simplify our lives. According to Harvey, life lived as part of a family can never be simple—as a glance at the jottings and crosshatchings of the kitchen calendar reminds us—yet it offers a route to reality and teaches essential lessons about passion, growth, and loss. In this collection of honest, eloquent essays, Harvey delves into the richness and wonder of life in a nuclear family cut adrift from history and tradition.

From the babble of babies to the idiosyncratic furnishings of a summer cottage, Harvey records the struggle of one family to create its own myths. He also deals with the longings, fears, and temptations that color life in an American family. While acknowledging simplicity as an American ideal, he believes that families make our simple lives messy—and therefore real.

Twice honored by the Associate Writing Program, Harvey's essays reveal the paradox that is the core of family life. Every mother is a daughter and every father a son. A daughter leaves home as she becomes the apple of her parents' eyes, and a son grows into manhood by walking away from the father he resembles more each passing day. Harvey suggests that we take on and shed such roles with apparent ease, living according to a hidden geometry, and like the seemingly simple lily, our families are complex webs of beautiful, living matter.

Steven Harvey is professor of English at Young Harris College. His work has been published in Harper's, Iowa Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Georgia Review, Southern Review, and other literary magazines. Harvey lives in the mountains of north Georgia with his wife and four children.

"A search for the meaning of family in the absence of relatives or roots."—Scott Russell Sanders, author of Aurora Means Dawn

"Alive with poetic energy.... These essays, like good poems, shape experience exactly as the experience requires."—James Kilgo, author of Deep Enough for Ivorybills

"A haunting book. It celebrates domestic life, but it takes its final authority from a specific, irreparable loss."—Franklin Burroughs, author of Horry and the Waccamaw



book jacket for A Geometry of Lilies


6 x 9
144 pages
ISBN 978-0-87249-895-2
hardcover, $14.95t

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