Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith

Publisher: Tin House Books
Isabel is a single, twentysomething thrift-store shopper and collector of remnants, things cast off or left behind by others. Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska. Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel's sense of history, memory, and place, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf. For Isabel, the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life. While she contemplates loss and the intricate fissures it creates in our lives, she accumulates the stories--the remnants--of those around her and she begins to tell her own story. (Description from BookDepository)

If we think about our lives passing by, every day on this earth, what remains and what disappears, isn't the natural conclusion that human beings are just a combination of memories and that only stories outlive us? And, being our stories the only survivors, aren't them the ones that really matter? 
Isabel isn't just a collector of remnants, she's a collector of stories. In Glaciers we get to step into Isabel's life for one day, watch her working on damaged books, shopping for the perfect vintage dress, aching for love, daydreaming, dancing, reminiscing, living. Glaciers is a novel that made me realize how every single moment of our lives, every little action is determined by our background, by who we are, by what we became, by the shape of our past, by the intensity of our desires. Our stories are engraved in our efforts, gems encrusted in souls. We are stories. 

Alexis M. Smith

Alexis Margaret Smith grew up in Soldotna, Alaska, and Seattle, Washington. She attended Mount Holyoke College, Portland State University, and Goddard College, where she earned an MFA in Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in Tarpaulin Sky and on She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her son, two cats, and their beloved view of the St. Johns bridge. (

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