CORVALLIS - Twenty essays that encompass such life experiences as fly fishing, motherhood and the breakup of a marriage comprise a new book by Oregon State University author Marjorie Sandor called "The Night Gardener."

Sandor will read from "The Night Gardener" and sign copies of her book on Friday, Nov. 5, at Grass Roots Book Store in Corvallis beginning at 7 p.m.

An associate professor of English, Sandor is one of a growing number of gifted creative writers at the university. In 1998, she received a Rona Jaffe Award for her short fiction, and her works have been included in The Best American Short Stories for both 1985 and 1988.v "The Night Gardener" mines Sandor's experiences and thoughts as she explores both nature and the nature of her relationships with family, with spirituality, and with herself. Her essays are both humorous and poignant.

In "Waiting for a Miracle: A Jew Goes Fishing," Sandor describes standing waist-deep in the Colorado River while a group of Hasidic Jews watched her from a bridge above.

Writes Sandor: "...I glanced up to see a dozen Hasids in long black coats and fedoras standing on the bridge above me. I closed my eyes to dismantle this hallucination, but when I opened them the Hasids were still there, gazing down at me, mournfully stroking their beards. I made a cast - into the trees. I made another and missed a strike. The men frowned and moved on, but it was too late: I knew myself judged. What kind of chutzpah was this, a Jew trying to walk in harmony with nature? And in the water, no less, that famous Christian element."

In "The Book of Changes," Sandor openly writes about the marriage, the home and the garden she left behind.

"The clematis, I remember, was by midsummer huge, spilling off its trellis - had we pruned it wrong? By July of our third year in that house, the year I fell in love and left our marriage, it would topple over with the weight and tangle of itself."

Published by The Lyons Press, "The Night Gardener" has been called dramatic, passionate and startlingly honest. Author Charles Baxter ("Believers") said, "I have never read a book quite like this one. Marjorie Sandor's tone manages to be both calm and passionate, whether she is describing fly fishing or the end of a marriage. Emotions pass through the scenes like clouds passing over a field..."

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Marjorie Sandor, 541-737-1648