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- Publisher: North Point Press
- Format: Paperback | 224 pages
- Dimensions: 137mm x 198mm x 13mm | 227g
- Publication date: 1 September 2000
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 086547589X
- ISBN 13: 9780865475892
- Edition statement: Revised and Rev.
- Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
"Marriage is like a rain forest," Vicki Covington writes in Cleaving. "The story of a marriage contains all that grows in the canopy, all that is visible from an aerial, or public, view. The understory of a marriage is the place where . . . we struggle, fight, and conceive. It's the place where compost is made, where anything can grow, including forgiveness." Told in the authors' alternating voices, Cleaving is both the story and the understory of a marriage. Childhood acquaintances, Vicki and Dennis meet again in their twenties and wed. they "promise each other nothing" and get more than they'd bargained for: alcoholism, infidelity, infertility, uncertainty. tumult gives way to sobriety, parenthood, and meaningful work, but a yearning remains. In a quest to root themselves in the larger world, they embark on a mission to dig water wells in Central America, assuaging a spiritual thirst by addressing a practical need. Yet even this is part of the story-the visible, overarching canopy-of the marriage. The understory-and the triumph of this haunting book, which is neither sentimental nor cynical-is its portrayal of the eddying of passion through the institution that enshrines but cannot contain it. A soulful and unsparing portrait of the forces that threaten-and sustain-a relationship over time.
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Dennis Covington is a journalist and the author of Salvation on Sand Mountain, a 1995 National Book Award finalist. Vicki Covington is the author of four novels, including The Last Hotel for Women. They live in Birmingham, Alabama.
"Cleaving is a wondrous love story. It speaks of the terness and dangers of eros as well as any book I have read, but it is the book's burning spirituality that stays with you."-- Pat Conroy "This marriage can be seen as a nest of contradictions: sacred and profane; sterile and fertile; faithful and marked by betrayal . . . As a love story this is both disturbing and exhilarating, but it leaves the reader wanting to sp more time with these very honest and vital people."--"Booklist," Starred Review "This raw, emotional memoir of a 20-year marriage is unforgettable . . . Highly recommed."--"Library Journal," starred review