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Beauty before comfort - Allison Glock

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Beauty before comfort
Allison Glock
Collins Flamingo
UK Publication Date

A memoir full of fondness, deftness and wit. A funny, vital eulogy by a wise granddaughter about her wiser grandmother. An American story about the America you never get to see.

'"Beauty before comfort," she would say as she trimmed her brows and cinched her belts corset-tight. My grandmother is so beautiful she has never once been comfortable, a cross she bears with the subtlety of Liberace.'

So writes Allison Glock at the start of her remarkable memoir, the story of her maternal grandmother, Aneita Jean Blair, and the extraordinary life she led growing up in Chester, West Virginia, a sooty factory town wedged between the unforgiving Appalachians and the Ohio River. As a girl, a young woman, and even late in life as a grandmother, Aneita Jean had a magnetism that attracted and enchanted all she came into contact with. Allison Glock takes us through the stages of her life, capturing not only the irrepressible vitality of a woman born ahead of her time, but also the eccentricities of a small-town, working-class West Virginia family, trying to survive the Great Depression and the Second World War.

Aneita, blessed with 'the body of Miss America' was determined that she would escape the town that was holding her back. That she never made it, and the pattern that her life ended up taking, is just another small-town tragedy of the vanished dreams of one extraordinary person. Allison Glock writes with humour, lyricism and beauty to create a truly unforgettable portrait of a remarkable person in a unique setting.

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allison glock, a writer-at-large for GQ and mother of two girls, lives in northern New Jersey. This is her first book.

`Delicious. Beauty Before Comfort is as apt a title as you could find for a memoir that is tart and poetic. Allison Glock has the kind of writing talent that packs worlds into sentences. It takes in all of American small town life and all of the American Dream. With a few deft strokes Ms Glock summons up some wonderful characters from her family history, all circling around the grandmother, Aneita Jean Blair. You won't forget this woman and you'll remember forever the writer's magical skills.' Frank McCourt

`This is a funny, tender, searing and uniquely honest take on one woman's life. It's also a portrait of a generation. Not to mention a meditation on our stories, how they echo, and what those echoes mean.' Colum McCann

`Allison Glock makes it look easy. Her memoir of her sexy, spirited grandmother is perfectly told and perfectly written. I can't remember the last time I met a woman in print who became as real to me as young Aneita Jean Blair - a girl so heartbreaking, so wild, so vividly rendered into flesh that you can almost feel yourself inside her body. An unforgettable portrait.' Elizabeth Gilbert

`Beauty Before Comfort is wise and passionate, wiseass and sorrowful all at the same time-just like Aneita Jean Blair, the unforgettable heroine at its center. Her story is a familiar one and it
never fails to break the heart. What's different here, what changes everything, is the way Allison Glock tells that story. You can hear traces of the ache and beauty of rural West Virginia in her voice and she sneaks so gracefully in and out of her grandmother's history you forget she's writing
at all. You can't help but lose yourself in this memorable life and in this lonely, lovely place and in this remarkable book.' Michael Knight

`A lovely, blue memoir of Glock's maternal grandmother, a vital square peg in the poor round hole of a hard-baked West Virginia town. In this working poor company town, Blair knew she was made of choicer stuff. She was a sparkplug who "spent at least seventy of her eighty-two years cultivating stares and making damn sure she warranted the attention." Glock writes with the rhythmically punctuated cadence of one semi-lost in thought. A memoir as elemental as its subject: pulsing, fetching, leaving a strong afterglow.' Kirkus Reviews

Keyword Index
City and town life - West Virginia - Chester - History - 20th century.|Working class women - West Virginia - Chester - Biography.|Working class - West Virginia - Chester - Biography.|Grandparent and child - West Virginia - Chester.|Chester (W. Va.) - Biography.|Chester (W. Va.) - Social life and customs - 20th century.
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