-- First paperback edition.
-- Both a detailed account of time spent in the country and a masterpiece of experimental "landscape" writing, Stein's long out of print novel explores the interlocking nature of the human and natural worlds, the fluid boundaries of identity, and the ways in which language can be used for description.
-- First published by Stein's own Plain Press ('30). First U.S. edition by Something Else Press ('69).
There is no summarizing or explaining the writings of Gertrude Stein. With the exception of her fledgling efforts like Three Lives or her funny, successful memoir, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, her fictions are without conventional plot, setting, or character. They are intellectual flowers, each sentence growing or receding from the one before it, repeating its main points with subtle, telling changes. In Lucy Church Amiably, first published in Paris in 1930 and long out of print, Stein describes the landscape and pastoral life of central France (while writing, she was staying near a small village named Lucy) in and through her character Lucy Church: "Gradually remembering a lake. Gradually. Remembering. A lake. In gradually remembering a lake by the shore of the lake where they were sitting." Yet Stein is not opaque or purely musical: she always provides solid details in unexpected places, specializing, as the critic Fred Dupee put it, in "the mingling of apparent conviction with transparent nonsense." She is a central figure in the modernist movement, but her relentless pleasure in her quirky, handmade idiom can repel the unwary reader. Although it is a delight to have this reprint, a brief introduction would have been useful for the uninitiated. Those interested in Stein should also turn to her Selected Writings, or, for a painless entrée to her work, begin with The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. --Regina Marler