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Artefact
$36.50

Artefact

 

By Arlene Heyman
288 pages
Hardcover
July 2020

From practicing psychiatrist and author of Scary Old Sex (“the kind of bliss that lifts right off the page” -Dwight Garner, NYT), Artifact is the dazzling, half-century-spanning story of biologist Lottie Kristin. Born in Michigan in the early 1940s to a taciturn mother and embittered father, Lottie is independent from the start, fascinated with the mysteries of nature and the human body. By age sixteen, she and her sweetheart, cheerful high school sports hero Charlie Hart, have been through a devastatingly traumatic pregnancy. When an injury ends Charlie's football career four years later, the two move to Texas hoping for a fresh start.

There, torn between the vitality of the antiwar movement and her family's traditional values, Lottie discovers the joys of motherhood, and reconnects with her interest in biology and experimentation, taking a job as a lab technician. While Charlie's depression pervades their home, Lottie's instinct is toward life; though every step is a struggle, she opts for single motherhood, graduate school, a career, and eventually, a marriage that makes space for all that she is.

Bravely and wisely written, Artifact is an intimate and propulsive portrait of a whole woman, a celebration of her refusal to be defined by others' imaginations, and a meditation on the glorious chaos of biological life.

"Proudly corporeal, fascinated by the workings of the physical form where our desires are housed as our tragedies are recorded . . . An homage to the body’s capacity to impart amazement even after death." - Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

"[Artifact] feels, more than anything, like an artifact of so many women’s lives." - Lynn Steger Strong, New York Times Book Review

“A sparse, moving portrait of a woman's journey through life as she follows her scientific passion . . . Full of vim and vigor.” ―Washington Independent Review of Books

“Heyman pays such sustained and stylish attention to late-life lovemaking . . . that you may feel you are reading about it for the first time . . . Rueful and funny and observant . . . Heyman is an enlightened observer across many aspects of life . . . These men and women are busily and blissfully humanizing themselves, the kind of bliss that lifts right off the page.” ―Dwight Garner, New York Times

“The graphic, funny, tender and shocking stories in New York psychiatrist Arlene Heyman's debut collection are aptly titled . . . Scary Old Sex has a lot more literary history and mystery going for it than most first-time collections. It's always an event when the silent muse speaks up for herself, and in Heyman's case, the muse's voice is lusty, tough and life-affirming.” ―Elaine Showalter, Guardian

“Heyman's frank tales . . . feel paradoxically taboo on the page, all the more so for the fierce candor with which they examine the sexuality of older women, a demographic generally assumed to have none to speak of . . . Writers, show us more older women, ones whose desires are powerful rather than pitiable. Some might call it a nightmare; really, it would be a dream come true.” ―Alexandra Schwartz, New Yorker


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