The Book I Read III

I have read more than one book since my last “Book I Read” post, I just haven’t written about any of them. But I will write about this most recent book that I read.

The book was Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer. Poser is a memoir which weaves together in alternating chapters stories from the author’s unusual childhood in the Puget Sound area and meditations (get it?) on her everyday life as a freelance author and new mother in North Seattle. As the title suggests, the book takes as its theme and leitmotif the author’s new interest in yoga and the profound effect it had on her life in the subsequent decade.

As the author continually points out, her story is very much a product of its time and place. The author and her life feel very liberal, very educated, very privileged and very beset by the existential angst proper to the petit bourgeois of our time. Dederer is plagued by anxieties and insecurities about her performance as wife, mother and professional. She is still uncovering and attempting to heal the wounds caused by the breakdown of her parents’ marriage and the subsequent instability in her childhood home.

Yoga, with its focus on presence, non-competitiveness and calm, proved to be the perfect antidote to the high-stress, performance anxiety lifestyle of Dederer and her peers. What’s more, the experience of concentrating on one’s body and strengthening it over the course of months and years proved therapeutic for Dederer, giving her greater confidence in her body and working at the aches and pains of modern car/office/computer life.

I was mostly interested in this book for its description of different yoga classes, practitioners and instructors. Dederer brings great humor, insight and relatability to this very  mockable group. Her stories of her strained marriage and rocky childhood grew slightly tiresome for me, after a while, but I loved her descriptions of how it feels to do yoga and how yoga makes you feel. I was interested by the story the whole way through and read the book quickly because each chapter kept me entertained and wanting more. The feeling of recognition at her descriptions of yoga, the ups-and-downs of her domestic life and the introduction to the work of her husband, Bruce Barcott, all made this book very enjoyable and worthwhile for me.

Pacific NW yuppies will find a lot to like in this book, I think. I did, anyway.


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