To read this book is to experience almost unalloyed pleasure. A volume of poetry that consists of a series of monologues by record-breaking woman aviators (the first woman balloonist, the first to solo a powered aircraft, the first to solo a glider, and so on …) might seem to run the risk of monotony, but nothing could be further from the truth. In poetic forms as varied, and often as witty, as their subjects Pat Valdata celebrates her airborne heroines with gusto, delight, and an exuberant sense of the sheer fun of the enterprise. There are serious poems here (the poem on Beryl Markham, for example, is a particularly affecting probing of the problems of self-knowledge and the nature of courage) but the overall tone is one of risks insouciantly taken and triumphantly overcome. Valdata’s heroines are eccentric, caustic, ambitious, indifferent to fuss but avid for glory, willful and proud of it; and her book reads as though cut from the same engagingly unconventional cloth. It’s a triumph, at once whimsical and earnest in its celebration of pioneering women in flight.
Inherent Vice takes its title from the scientific property of objects to decay, to deteriorate, whether those objects are man-made or natural, human or not… We are treated to Valdata’s empathy with growing things and with, often, her sly and appealing wit.
The Other Sister explores the immigrant experience and Americanization of three generations of siblings in a community of Hungarian immigrants during the first half of the 20th century. United by language and custom, they form a tight-knit community in a town that is not often welcoming and sometimes openly hostile.
Ellen Horvath, whose college education is interrupted by personal tragedy, finds herself in the cycle of life's realities, at a time and place chosen by Fate. Crosswind is her story, as she sorts through barriers and obstacles, until she finally discovers a world so appealing her life is changed again.