We are moving back into fuller life in Parma, Italy. Kids' voices on playgrounds surge to pitches that wake our brains up. We see, in ourselves and the world, newly uncovered, newly pressing realities. It is reassuring to meet eyes no longer looking so frightened. That's important since the work to begin living fully now requires more courage and imagination than ever. We learn everyday that we are not out of the challenges of containing the virus and its human costs. But we are closer to seeing solutions in interconnectedness.
I wrote the final chapters of Silence and Silences in Italy during a lockdown period in the pandemic. It penetrated, but by no means dictated, the book's flow. My writing assumes that the unknown is always right before our eyes.
My voice, a woman's voice, defines her place in Silence and Silences, among hundreds of other voices, living and dead, literary and unnamed, together coaxing and inviting readers to listen to themselves.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux released Silence and Silences on December 7th, 2021. It can be ordered now. Click here or below on the "Books Available From" section.
Silence and Silences sings of a new now--our tumultuous upheaval reshaping culture, casting away, flowing forward. The book holds a dialogue with readers: how thought is power and art a means to express identity as living, cultural, and, ultimately, lying beyond the compression of language.
Read more comments about the book on the "Works" page.
Mother Tongue is reissued
* 2020 Edition *
Foreword by Patricia Hampl and Preface by the Author
Mother Tongue, An American Life in Italy, describing WWM's early years living in Parma, was published in a new edition by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2020. In the two decades since it first appeared, it has become "an underground literary classic." "Passionate, sensuous, even fierce," (Kirkus Review) it provides "at one and the same time, a rounded picture of a city and of a woman describing the flow of life itself...as in a symphony." (Gazzetta di Parma). Framed by Patricia Hampl's introduction and a foreword by the author, the book animates, in a completely original way, the complexity of country and a sense of self.
Tim Parks observes: "Mother Tongue is a sustained and generous meditation on difference, the discovery of oneself and one's own culture through the urgent need to come to terms with another. Few writers have savored Italy so intimately and intelligently...".
Frances Mayes, whose books have led so many readers to travel to Italy, wrote in her latest work, "I read further into (WWM's) book about living in Parma, realizing at every page that her roots show how a visitor like me only treads the surface of the place."
Eva Hoffman comments: "Written with empathy and vivid insight, this is a memoir that acknowledges the difficulties as well as the possibilities for self-enlargement."
The Paris Review online
An Attentive Memoir of Life in Parma
By Patricia Hampl March 20, 2020
READ THE REVIEW >