In the morning fog of the North Atlantic, Valerie hears the frenetic ticking of clocks. She's come from Toronto to hike on the French island of St. Pierre and to ponder her marriage to Gerard Lefèvre, a Montrealer and a broadcast journalist whose passion for justice was ignited in his youth by the death of his lover in an airline bombing. He's a restless traveller (who she suspects is unfaithful) and she's the opposite: quiet, with an inner life she nurtures as a horticulturalist. Valerie's thinking about Gerard on assignment in her native New York City, where their son Andre works. In New York City, an airplane has plunged into a skyscraper, and in the short time before anyone understands the significance of this event, Valerie's mind begins to spiral in and out of the present moment, circling around her intense memories of her father's death, her youthful relationship with troubled Matthew, and her pregnancy with his child, the crisis that led to her marriage to Gerard, and her fears for the safety of her son Andre and his partner James. Unable to reach her loved ones, Valerie finds memory intruding on a surreal and dreamlike present until at last she connects with Gerard and the final horror of that day.
"With shattering grace Giangrande divines catastrophic grief, the redemptive power of ephemeral joys, and the interconnectedness of all things as past and present conflate in terrorism's chaos. Memory becomes balm as life, all life, is porous. Exquisite, devastating, this book is a bomb."
--Carol Bruneau, author of Glass Voices and These Good Hands
In All That is Solid Melts Into Air, the language of trauma is made lyrical and evocative in Carole Giangrande's hands so that like her characters, we become witnesses again in our post-9/11 imaginations and hearts. And it is her female protagonist, Valerie, we follow with an empathic blend of dread and hope in the hours before and after the tragedy. Gardener and nurturer of the earth, wife and mother in frantic search of her son, it is Valerie whose fragmented memories, dreams and premonitions we decipher while Giangrande skillfully weaves us back and forth in time and place. As we uncover Valerie's intertwining life stories of love and loss and shuttle from the richly depicted landscape of Saint-Pierre to a devastated Lower Manhattan, we recognize 'how precious human conjunctions are' for all those of us left behind. A riveting and reflective read of the cumulative moments that mark a life."
--Carol Lipszyc, author of The Saviour Shoes and Other Stories
"An elegy for lost innocence, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air is at once extremely sad and exquisitely hopeful. Its hopefulness resides mainly in the stubborn resonance of the quotidian, and in the kind hearts and good wills of those who refuse to accept evil, no matter how often it crashes into their lives. Carole Giangrande has achieved a great deal in this short, beautiful book; confronting the incomprehensible without despair and describing profound grief without sentimentality."
--Susan Glickman, author of The Tale-Teller and Safe as Houses
"All That Is Solid Melts Into Air is above all a compassionate book. Carole Giangrande takes that horrifying day
--September 11, 2001
--and filters it though the consciousness of a woman, Valerie, whose loved ones are in Manhattan as the crisis unfolds. She doesn't know whether they are dead or alive, and Giangrande is masterful in her expression of Valerie's surreal state of mind. The book captures with gut-wrenching acuity the anxiety, fear and distress of not only that particular day but of our current social climate as well. No one is safe anymore
--was anyone, ever?
--and our perceptions rule us: 'The truth was that everything you looked at had to pass through the lens of what you imagined you saw. It was up to you to decide what was real.' Timely words from a timely book."
--Eva Tihanyi, author of >Flying Underwater: Poems New and Selected and The Largeness of Rescue