Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Caleb Seeling reviews Glimmerglass

from Notes from the Publishing Underground
(November 12, Conundrum Press newsletter.)
"In 2011, Conundrum press was acquired by Samizdat Group, LLC, owned by Caleb Seeling... Conundrum Press is a stand-alone, traditional model literary press. Future plans include a Rocky Mountain Poetry Series, the details of which are forthcoming, and a philanthropic plan to support literary endeavors from sales of our books."

Fiction Review by Caleb J Seeling

Glimmerglass: A Novel
By Marly Youmans

Marly Youmans is one of those rare literary figures who excels at both poetry and prose, each informing the other. Her latest novel, Glimmerglass, is a beautiful and skillfully told modern-day fairy tale. Cynthia Sorrel is a failed artist trying to rediscover herself and her place in the world, and we are drawn with her into the scenic, slightly mysterious New England hamlet of Cooper Patent. The residents of Cooper Patent seem as serene and peaceful as the lake, Glimmerglass, beside which the village is nestled. There are of course secrets and jealousies lurking just below the surface, but Youmans lulls the reader into a dreamlike state until, as in all good fairy tales, she sinks the reader into the dark waters where reality is blurred and bent like a half-submerged stick. It is here that the reader begins to feel more than know the meaning of what happens to Cynthia. A gorgeous book that is quick to read and meaty enough to digest slowly, Glimmerglass is a wonderful novel with which to curl up next to a fire and spend chilly nights.


  1. It was must be so gratifying to have your work so positively reviewed. I can only somewhat relate to what you must feel: when I was a theater major, the applause -- especially the surges of applause that would happen every now and then for my rather than the casts' curtain calls -- was like being embraced warmly by someone whose love you so much wanted and needed. Or do I overstate an author's joy?

    1. I'm fairly practical about anything to do with marketing--I'm glad to get it, especially when it's a useful venue. I've been reviewed in NYT, WPost, etc., and those things are a big help. This book is with a university press, though, so I'd be surprised to get that sort of review. What I am as a rule is glad and relieved that somebody noticed and bothered to make a statement. I've never met Caleb Seeling, but he seems like an interesting man and devoted to Conundrum, and I'm pleased that he wanted to write something about Glimmerglass.

      I generally get good reviews, but I've chosen the path less-traveled, and that really does make all the difference, and not always in a good way! I have dispensed with an agent--I've had two, and they both fell into my lap. I would never want the agony of looking for one... and am not sure that I want another.

      And now I'm working off a list of publishers who have asked me for books. So far I have used three of them, but they're all either small presses or university press. I like it that I can collaborate with Clive and do books the way I want to do them. I can be the sort of writer who never does the same thing twice without worrying about it. But those choices come at a cost in numbers, and also in venues for reviews. At some point that cost can become too high (or perhaps I should say low....)

      My equivalent to what you're talking about with curtain calls is when a writer or critic I admire writes me a private fan letter. That's when I feel momentarily elated. I have some that I keep around for down moments when I feel...well, the way everybody who devotes a life to something grand feels at times. But I also can feel quite pleased with a letter from some unknown reader who has read a book with care and attention. Probably my deepest joys come in the writing...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.