Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Trapeze Diaries. Marie Carter. ( Hanging Loose Press Brooklyn, NY) $16.
Most of us in a time of need, when we seek the sap of succor, look to find the sympathetic ear of a psychotherapist, a clergyman, a guru, or even a local barkeep. But in your wildest imagination, would you seek wisdom, the answer to the myriad of ontological questions from a trapeze artist? Most definitely not. But Marie Carter in her evocative and engaging memoir released from the Hanging Loose Press:” The Trapeze Diaries,” an aerialist seems like a natural choice.
Have if you will, as Rod Serling would phrase it on “The Twilight Zone,” a one Miss Marie Carter. A young woman, quiet and overly cautious, with a literary bent, who finds herself newly transplanted from Scotland to the Naked City of New York, coming to terms with herself and the recent death of her father. Being a solipsist I was fascinated by what I could see of myself in the insecurities of Miss. Carter. Her fears and doubts have been and are very much my own, and may I dare say , perhaps yours?
But Carter doesn’t take a sedentary approach to matters. This intrinsically unathletic, bookish woman throws herself into the art of the aerialist. She takes regular lessons and stretches both her mind and body in a truly original fashion. Carter writes with strokes of clarity and simplicity and her prose is never weighed down with purple flourishes.
Carter emerges from her lessons transformed from a woman seriously out of touch with her mind and body to a woman in love with the human form:
“I am coming to fall deeply in love with the human body and its nuances; mine is more useful than I ever had imagined. I start reading anatomy books and then mouthing the words of the muscle groups in my body, my hands covering my forearms, elbows, triceps, shoulders, feeling the texture of my muscles, the hardness of each bone. I do this with my eyes closed, as though reading Braille.”
At each lesson Carter gleans bits of worldly wisdom from the aerialist’s instructions and she eventually is able to let go of the ghost of her deceased father, and the stranglehold of fears that corsets her life. In this passage the aerialist as sage is fully realized:
“ The Aerialist has more faith in me than I have in myself. I am trying to take my knee off the bar for One-Knee Hang. It is a trick that I believe to be beyond me; nonetheless when it is my turn, I can the Aerialist watching me out of the corner of her eye, hoping I will complete it….
The Aerialist has told me to imagine I am strong, and I as I do that, I actually feel myself becoming stronger.
“Sometimes you can change a person’s whole path of doing something with the tiniest adjustment of movement.”
I thought she was going to say: ‘ You can change a person’s whole life.’”
A wonderful read. Highly recommended.
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ Feb 2008/ Somerville, Mass.