Molly is working on a new biography: The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid.
Even in the 21st century it isn’t easy to be a married artist. We all need our role models for how–and how not–to do it. The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid is a tale of a painter, her marriage, her daughter-figure rival, and a life that stretched from the Civil War to the day she went out to vote.
This extraordinary 19th-century Canadian-American artist managed both a partnership with a fellow artist as well as a full painting career, sojourning in Paris and Spain, painting in the Catskills, and settling in Toronto. Fabulously productive, she showed her sumptuous still lifes and landscapes at all the major North American Expositions during her lifetime (1854-1921).
But on her deathbed, she willed her husband to her younger rival painter friend.
Mary Hiester Reid kept minute logs of the titles and prices of her work–and wrote jaunty travel pieces–but there’s not a single page of a written personal journal. However, artist’s journals aren’t only kept in words. Mary’s paintings are a hidden visual diary of her life, full of triumphs—and compromises, lots of them.
The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid unfolds the subjects of her paintings as she composed them: in triangles of three roses, three trees, three vases, three trajectories ever recombining: with shadow figures of herself, her husband, the painter and architect George Reid; and the younger painter and printmaker Mary Evelyn Wrinch, who became his second wife.
Mary’s story is a tale of then for our lives of now.
Molly Peacock’s fiction book, Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions, with illustrations by Kara Kosaka, is available for sale in Canada.
View the Alphabetique Virtual Advent Calendar Archive, where a detail from one of Kara Kosaka’s jewel-like illustrations for the abecedarian mini-stories accompanied a line or a bit from the story of the letter of the day.
Watch Molly talking about Alphabetique.
From the book’s dust jacket:
Molly Peacock has written a new classic, a one-of-a-kind collection of magical tales inspired by the lives of the letters of the ALPHABET.
From A, who climbs an Alp with her husband, but finds it is an apparition from her own past that points them toward their future; to D, who always felt he was double, and after a lifetime of denial finds a way to live his truth; to L, the glamorous star of yesteryear who is preparing to slip into the shadows until a most intriguing visitor materializes to change her mind; to P, a poet in a faraway land, watching his sleeping lover and listening for the hoofbeats of warriors; and Q, an orphan who one day, somehow, finds himself standing before the Queen.
Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions is unique, but nevertheless fits perfectly with Molly Peacock’s extraordinary body of work, drawing on the same wellsprings of creativity and artistry as her poetry, her memoir Paradise, Piece by Piece, and her bestselling work of biography (and so much more), The Paper Garden. These charming, incisive, sensual stories of love, yearning, and self-discovery are complimented by Kara Kosaka’s layered, jewel-bright collages.
“These are not works of naturalism,” Steven W. Beattie says about Alphabetique in Canada’s National Post. “They tilt more toward fable or allegory. This immediately sets the book apart from the vast majority of Canadian short fiction, or indeed much international short fiction since Chekhov and Joyce.”
“Approaches the subject of creativity itself in an ingeniously oblique manner,” says George Fetherling in Quill & Quire. “Peacock’s texts work perfectly with the 26 full-page illustrations by Vancouver artist and designer Kara Kosaka. These are varied, lush, and colourful, each one created to match the mood.”
Read more about Molly’s memoir and thoughts about not having children.
The Private I: Privacy in a Public World
a collection of essays
edited by Molly Peacock for The Graywolf Forum Series
How we find privacy and how we lose it is the scope of this lively and engaging collection of essays. Writers tackle the issue of privacy on many levels: global, communal, and the very personal. Subjects include a look at the implications of surveillance technology; an exploration of teen web sites and the lives of the girls who make them; and thoughts on the polarity of a warm, sometimes claustrophobic, Latin community vs. cold North American isolation. Authors include well-known writers and poets, plus attorneys, an actor, a physician, a psychologist, a man serving time in prison, a recent college graduate, and a scholar: Anita Allen, Dorothy Allison, Barbara Feldon, Jonathan Franzen, Bronwyn Garrity, F. Gonzalez-Crussi, Vivian Gornick, Michael Groden, Evans D. Hopkins, Wayne Koestenbaum, Yusef Komunyakaa, Wendy Lesser, Cathleen Medwick, Kathleen Norris, Josip Novakovich, Molly Peacock, Victoria Roberts, Janna Malamud Smith, and Robin West.
“Passion Flowers in Winter,” Molly’s essay about the remarkable 18th-century botanical collage artist Mrs. Delany, is included in The Best American Essays 2007, edited by David Foster Wallace, series editor Robert Atwan.
The best-selling biography and meditation on late-life creativity was Named A Book of the Year by The Economist, The Globe and Mail, Booklist, The London Evening Standard, The Irish Times, The Sunday Telegraph.
Andrea Wulf in the New York Times Book Review:”Delany’s story abounds with energy as Peacock brings her alive. Like her glorious multilayered collages, Delany is so vivid a character she almost jumps from the page.”
Michael Dirda in the Washington Post: “Peacock’s book is a celebration of second chances and the possibility – so attractive to those of a certain age – of an unexpected blossoming late in life. . . . Here, then, is not only an introduction to a unique artist, but also a whole bouquet of thoughts and observations about the flow of life.”
Victoria Glendinning in The Globe and Mail: “Peacock has structured the whole book as metaphor, a collage about collage, and a meditation on sexuality, friendship and creativity.”
Diana Athill in The Times’ “Saturday Review” magazine: “[Peacock’s] account of the life, which is expanded into a meditation on friendship and creativity, is so fresh, sensitive and convincing . . . .”
Published by McClelland and Stewart in Canada, Scribe in Australia, Bloomsbury US and UK. Visit www.peacockpapergarden.com for more information about this book.