Thursday, August 7, 2008

Noelle Oxenhandler's "The Wishing Year"

Noelle Oxenhandler is the author of A Grief Out of Season and The Eros of Parenthood. Her essays have appeared in many national and literary magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Vogue, Tricycle, Parabola, Utne Reader, and O: The Oprah Magazine.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Wishing Year: A House, a Man, My Soul - A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire, and reported the following:
Page 99:


Raking It In

In which, as I set out

to explore the ancient history

of wishing, my own wishes

surprise me by beginning

to come true

At first when I looked at page 99 of The Wishing Year and saw that it was only the dividing page between Parts One and Two, I thought: How could it possibly convey the essence of the book? And yet, when I looked more closely, I realized that it did. For starters, the title of Part Two is “Raking It In” which I believe conveys my ironic approach to the get-what-you-want school of life. Then “as I set out to explore the ancient history of wishing” makes it clear that I’m not simply focused on my own personal story, but on something quite primal and universally human. Craft-wise, that was probably the most difficult thing about writing this book: intertwining my own personal experience with a great deal of research about the art and practice of wishing in different times and places throughout history. Finally, the reference to “surprise” expresses something quite genuinely true of my own experiment in desire, which is that—despite my doubts and reservations—my three wishes really did come true!
Read an excerpt from The Wishing Year, and learn more about Noelle Oxenhandler and The Wishing Year at the Random House website.

--Marshal Zeringue