Salt and Paper: 65 Candles

by Janell Moon

Salt and Paper: 65 Candles front cover


Donna Gillespie, writer (San Francisco, California)
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious Third Act, December 11, 2010
This review is from: Salt and Paper: 65 Candles (Paperback)

Salt and Paper is a journal of author, poet and psychologist Janell Moon's 65th year. To me this memoir was not only brilliantly original, but heartening, celebratory and endearing as well—a courageous book that will help you embrace aging as a time of beauty and mystery. I believe it's a book that will encourage younger people to find ways to look forward to growing older—and to be open to the possibility that maybe the last third of your life will make the first two-thirds make sense. It's told in bursts of verse and flashes of prose, and the unconventional telling might seem like bright, disconnected snapshots of a life at first, but after a while you find it all assembling in your mind as a glowing whole, a complete picture of a creative year lived in a way that will challenge you to match it.

The author doesn't shy away from the uncomfortable places, writing of her deep, and at times, she fears, unmanageable sadness over her coming separation from her son and grandson when they plan to move away, and her struggle to shield them from her pain. She writes of mourning a dear friend she's losing day by day to Alzheimer's, and of her own physical pain associated with aging. Through all this she lives a life that fosters creativity, giving over a room in her condo to making collages, taking time for long walks, finding poetry everywhere she looks, making the ordinary quietly extraordinary. It's as though she's made aging itself into a creative project; I came away from the book thinking of hitting 65 as the beginning of a glorious third act.


Clarinda Harriss, poet/professor (Towson, Maryland)
5.0 out of 5 stars Salt of the earth, January 10, 2011
This review is from: Salt and Paper: 65 Candles (Paperback)

Janell Moon's newest book, Salt and Paper: 65 Candles astonishes on every page. Sometimes it offers the shock of recognition—something you realize (or imagine, with the thrill of deja vu) you have always thought.

Like this:
Want to register in people's eyes when I'm doing errands. Please don't step on me.

and this:
When I tell my son I'm writing a memoir, he asks, “Am I in it?” “No,” I lie, and he is relieved.

and this:
Not everything a lesson. Sometimes life just happens.

But then there are the many shocks of lyricism which make you look at your world in a way you know you never did before. Look at these nuggets, all part of the daily-diary format of the book:

blouse with starch and the ruined zipper but the snake gives birth in the city's basket

and this, the full entry for August 10:

Art didn't last, didn't wipe out the world.
It all belonged in the world at the end.
everything on earth stored in a star
salt and crunchy, sweat and gravel

The sheer magic of "star" instead of "jar," the riskiness of that mouthful of gravel—these are marks of the serious artist. Such “marks” mark this whole book.

Moon's work with visual and other arts as well as with words informs her words with textures, noises, colors that resonate whether the book is open or closed in front of me. Billed as experimental prose, Moon's new book is a contemplative object, a rosary; it is a how-to-get-started-on-your-own writing book (see her list of phrases she likes—I defy you not to start a list of your own); it is a real woman's real diary; it is a poem

By the way, on my own new list of favorite phrases are "salt and paper" and "Ms. Moon."


Anna Costantino (Cape Cod, Massachusetts)
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 Candles, and counting!, February 8, 2011
This review is from: Salt and Paper: 65 Candles

Oh, Oh! Here they come! 65 Candles (and more?!!) cresting the hill of your birthday cake.

First, CANCEL that facelift! Then, raise high the Flag of Age! Celebrate. Honor your Self, your experiences, loves, people who stayed or came and went. Applaud your passions for the ordinary and the extraordinary, notice all the good you've let in. Acknowledge how you made your way through the bad stuff.

Janell Moon's writing in Salt and Paper: 65 Candles contains universal truths. Their meaningfulness and clarity untangle snagged emotions. The remaining nuggets reflect the wonderful facets (wrinkles and all!) which have given shape to every one of us. Rejoice!


Mary Chase
5.0 out of 5 stars Handbook for the days ahead, March 27, 2011
This review is from: Salt and Paper: 65 Candles

Looking over Ms Moon's shoulder throughout her 65th year, just out of sight as she delights in her grandchild's attention, visits with her elderly mother, remembers to buy wool socks, I found subtle instruction on how to notice and to let go.

Salt and Paper offers intimate, honest glimpses of the practice of living, and of writing—reminding us of the patience needed to allow both to unfold.


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