Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review: 'The Eclipse Dancer' by Laura Koerber

The Eclipse Dancer by [Koerber, Laura]

‘Yay, sun! Go moon! Eclipse, eclipse, eclipse now!’

Pacific Northwest author Laura Koerber has penned four books in her retirement on an island with her husband and her two dogs. She is an animal advocate, works with dog rescue, cares for disabled people, is a political activist, and, of course, an author – her books The Listener's Tale, I Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found, Limbo and now The Eclipse Dancer written in the genre of magical realism and fantasy.

From the first words of her book Laura transports us to a different plane: ’Andy was surrounded by darkness and smoke. The smoke came from her cigarette. She held the butt up in front of her face and exhaled, the smoke making lazy spirals up and out into the warm, thick summer air There was no one to watch her no one to tell her that smoking would kill her, No need for her to reply, “Not dead yet.” The darkness was the result of her eclipse glasses. Outside the tiny domain of the glasses, the day was glowing with light. Sunlight lay heavy and yellow on the grass, flickered silver-green on the leaves of the oak trees along the property line, and burned hot and white on the gravel of the driveway. The sun itself was a harshly glaring orb in a radiantly blue sky. But not to her. She was viewing the sun through her personal darkness and her smoke screen. She tipped the glasses up and checked her watch. About forty-five minutes until full eclipse. She was out early….’

Poetic and creating a space into which we all would love to seek, Laura’s story is a gem – an exploration of the mysteries of the cycle of life, our responses, the spectre of death, the universals the bind us all. The story outline provides the stage – ‘Andy thought of flying. She imagined the air under her arms, her hair lifting and floating. She felt her heartbeat separate from the faraway beat and form its own rhythm: light, quick, a dancing thrum. When she opened her eyes, her yard was dusky and her mood had lightened. She let her gaze drift across the darkening landscape. Andy’s heart filled with exultation. She raised her arms, fanned out her fingers, and arched her feet until she was on her toes. She was assaulted by memories. Her mother was dying, and Danny had been dead for years. Her daughter was in Minneapolis, and Alana was up in the North Woods someplace. All of her childhood friends—the fairies, Hairy, Mr. Tolliver, and Kenshi—were gone. Is it true that childhood is never overcome? “I have changed,” she whispered. The light exploded into a ring of fire in a black sky: total eclipse. She gently rose up into the warm, dark air and began to dance.’

It would not be inappropriate to say Laura Koerber is a writer’s writer, but that praise must somehow include the artistry of her communication with her reader. Brilliant! Grady Harp, January 19

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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