© 2010 Andrea Scrima Spuyten Duyvil Press, Brooklyn, New York
To purchase the book: Amazon
A LESSER DAY is poetic, disturbing, elegiac, visceral, and beautiful. Scrima paints vivid, detailed memories of places to evoke a web of intimate relationships that emerges gradually from a temporal fog into shocking, unforgettable clarity.
Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man and The Astral; winner of the 2008 PENN/Faulkner Award
The East Village of the early eighties; a divided Berlin; Brooklyn approaching the end of the millennium. Alternating between the various addresses of a restless life on two continents, A LESSER DAY is a memoir in which part of the story takes place between the lines, untold.
In the freezing studios and working-class flats of Kreuzberg, we meet Sabine from across the bleak courtyard, a sturdy mother of four who disappears one day and whose adolescent daughters gradually grow wild; Martin, the charismatic boy with an alcoholic stepfather and his own hidden streak of cruelty; Ivo, a Croatian car mechanic who returns home to fight in the war as the landlady’s nine-year-old son sets about throwing rocks at the windowpanes of his workshop.
When the narrator travels to New York to attend her father’s funeral shortly after November 9, 1989, the day the Berlin Wall fell, a period begins in which her hold on reality grows increasingly tenuous. Hiding away in her studio with her father’s journals, her paintings building up inch by inch in a fruitless attempt to come to terms with human mortality, she sets about deciphering her father’s encoded script. Addressing a continually shifting “you” in a search for emotional understanding initially directed at the author’s dead father and then merging into a blur of intimate others, A LESSER DAY explores the mechanisms of memory and suppression in an era of political upheaval. Little escapes the author’s scrutinizing eye as she locates meaning in the passage of time as it inscribes itself into the myriad things around us: the mute, insentient witnesses of our everyday existence.
Read an excerpt on my website at www.andreascrima.com
Listen to a recording on National Public Radio: www.berlinstories.org
A narrative kept closer than a secret, oozing in slow, soft, whispers …
The work is delicate, yet naked and unapologetic, and our collective consciousness
is greater for Spuyten Duyvil publishing this small, wondrous book.
— The Brooklyn Rail
The book’s mission is awareness, seeing … in the end, it is hard not to cheer on a mind so intent on reclaiming meaning from the abandoned, the forgotten, and the mundane.
— KGB Bar Lit
A LESSER DAY is a miraculous memoir intricately woven out of small wonders.
Scrima’s is a world in which nothing is unobserved, nothing unnoticed; everything is fraught with meaning, however difficult it may be to discern. Few of us have any but the dimmest understanding of the lives we lead, moment to moment. The bravery and beauty of A LESSER DAY is in the effort to understand, to make clear, to illuminate even the tiniest gesture. On the surface an elegy for a father’s death, it ultimately becomes a monument to the human struggle to survive, to remember, to understand, and to love.
— Robert Goolrick, author of The End of the World as We Know It and
A Reliable Wife; winner of the NAIBA Award for Novel of the Year 2009
Clarice Lispector has said that the approach to anything comes about gradually and agonizingly, and that’s exactly what Andrea Scrima does in A LESSER DAY. Her unnamed narrator, an American artist living in Berlin, attempts to “turn my attention to this moment, try to comprehend its immediacy, to trust in its reality; I tell myself that this is the present, this moment and no other.” Trying to come to grips with her father’s recent death, she waits “for these twirling bits of thought to slowly settle down at the bottom of the jar,” and, in the process, takes us along on a patient and enriching journey of discovery and reconciliation.
— Tsipi Keller, author of Jackpot and Retelling
As Andrea Scrima’s A LESSER DAY unfolds, form is repetition: time is day, narrative is place—as both departure and refuge. And each section a separate movement returns to that moment wherein the narrator watches the subtle shift of light as perception of time. This book is about observation; the way an artist watches light change. Scrima’s meditation on loss seeks momentum in image.
— Rebecca Goodman, author of The Surface of Motion
Read an extensive interview with Leora Skolkin-Smith in The Brooklyn Rail
Read the Book Notes to A Lesser Day and listen to an MP3 from Christian von der Goltz’s CD Wheels of Time
Read an interview from the blog Things I’d Rather Be Doing