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February 7, 2013

Local author's book listed on 'Favorite Books of 2012'

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — She has done it again. Cooperstown author Marly Youmans has been recognized for one of her books.

Her 11th book, “Thaliad,” has been listed on “Favorite Books of 2012” by “Books & Culture.”

This time, she has written a post-apocalyptic epic poem about seven children who journey to a place rather like her current home and settle, creating a new culture. It has been published in simultaneous hardcover and paperback by Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal and features artwork by painter and visual artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

According to a media release from the publishing company, the book is about how the children remake their world after cataclysm, led by the youngest yet most determined among them, Thalia. The release states that children settle in a deserted northern village very much like Cooperstown, and in fact one may pick out versions of Otsego Lake, Lakefront Park, Lakelands, Kingfisher Tower, Christ Church, The Village Library and more as major parts of the world of the narrative poem.

The release said “Thaliad” has won praise from novelists, poets and other readers for its vigor, characterization and dramatic story.

“In ‘Thaliad,’ Marly Youmans has written a powerful and beautiful saga of seven children who escape a fiery apocalypse —  though ‘written’ is hardly the word to use, as this extraordinary account seems rather ‘channeled’ or dreamed or imparted in a vision, told in heroic poetry of the highest caliber. Amazing, mesmerizing, filled with pithy wisdom, ‘Thaliad’ is a work of genius, which also seems particularly relevant to our own time,” novelist Lee Smith said in the release.

According to the release, the book has been reviewed as an “exciting and heartbreaking myth of origin.” It states: “The book partakes of mythic and fairy tale elements while using the ideas of the heroic epic to tell a marvelous story about vivid characters. The result is a poem that is a highly readable adventure and story of rebirth with more in common with the excitement and drama of Homer’s epics and Beowulf than with difficult works of the recent past.”

“The epic form is not an easy one, and in lesser hands this audacious project would have failed,” poet Rachel Barenblat said in the release. “This is a beautiful and powerful book worth owning, worth reading and rereading. I am so glad that it exists in the world and that I can turn to it, time and again, glorying in the language and the hope.”

The poem marries story and adventure with compression and joy in language. Ellen Kushner, writer and longtime host of WGBH’s “Sound and Spirit,” said in the release. She called the book a “remarkable and daring work … combines the best of epic poetry with modern fiction” and is “by turns funny, insightful, and deeply moving.”

Youmans, a poet and novelist, had a busy year in 2012. She served as a judge for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature – reading 316 books between June and early September. Before that, she did a book tour in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Youmans’ novel “A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage” was selected as the winner of The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction for 2010. The award is given by Mercer University Press “for the best book that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context.” Youmans has won various awards for her short fiction and has received a wide variety of recognition for her work.

Her third novel, “The Wolf Pit” (published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux) won The Michael Shaara Award. Her book “Val/Orson,” was chosen as “Book of the Year’’ for 2009 by “Books and Culture’’ magazine editor John Wilson.

Other poetry books include “The Foliate Head” (Stanza Press in the U.K.), “Claire” (Louisiana State University Press) and “The Throne of Psyche” (Mercer University Press).

Youmans, who has lived in Cooperstown for the past 13 years, said she likes to veer from writing short stories to the novel to formal poetry.

“Writers come from passionate readers, I was that,” she said.

“Thaliad” is available in paperback through the press website, bookstores (via Ingram) and Amazon.

Hardcover copies are available only through the Phoenicia Publishing website, www.phoeniciapublishing.com. For more information, visit Phoenicia. Information may also be found at the author’s website, www.thepalaceat2.blogspot.com.