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Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,130 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
A beautifully crafted and inviting account of one woman’s life, Safekeeping offers a sublimely different kind of autobiography. Setting aside a straightforward narrative in favor of brief passages of vivid prose, Abigail Thomas revisits the pivotal moments and the tiny incidents that have shaped her life: pregnancy at 18; single motherhood (of three!) by the age of 26; the ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 17th 2001 by Anchor (first published 2000)
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Elizabeth Andrew
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
What a gorgeous book! As someone who perpetually gripes about memoirists not doing thorough, emotional research, I have to give three cheers to Abigail Thomas. She has taken the mundane stuff of motherhood and marriage and a woman floundering through life and made an object of striking beauty. Her short pieces are tiny windows onto tiny moments that nonetheless illuminate human brokenness and the terrific force of love. I delight in trusting a narrator so completely. I'm also thrilled to now kno ...more
jo
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
My sister recently recommended Abigail Thomas' Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life as good airplane reading. When I first glanced through it, I admit, I groaned. The chapters are extremely short, the story jumps around with no chronological order, the viewpoint changes from third person to first person to second person with no warning. I thought, oh great, another too-cool-for-school, experimental memoir that's trying to be deep. Thanks, Anna.

Then I started reading.

Safekeeping is actually
...more
Patricia
Feb 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I learned of Abigal Thomas after reading an article on nonlinear narrative in The Writer's Chronicle. The article interviewed four writers, two with whom I was familiar: Paul Lisicky and Bernard Cooper. I had an opportunity to study with these men in the MFA Program at Antioch University and appreciated their style. The interview made me think I would like Thomas too, so I ordered two of her books, including Safekeeping.

WOW!! I want this woman to be my teacher! In writing AND in life. She has th
...more
Jessica
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Abigail Thomas, you saucy grandmother you. I want to dive into a swimming pool full of you.
This voice-driven memoir is the genre at its height - full of 4am moments wherein life's mundanities (opening a can of tuna fish) are sketched into art in a way that only the writing process can achieve. A carefully controlled and magnificently crafted voice emerges on the page, and blank space becomes just as important as text. Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay this is that it left me wanting much
...more
Christie
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. A beautiful look at part of one woman's life, the joys and sorrows that went with it in essay form that may as well been poetry for their loveliness. I wish that I had read this book before A Three Dog Life for a few reasons. 1. I liked this book more, but I think I would have liked A Three Dog Life more than I did (I already gave it 4 stars) had I known Abby's past. 2. I read this book knowing what happens to her and it was hard because in this book you could read the hope in ...more
Anne
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This is a lovely, lovely, little book. With strong, simple words, the author illuminates the everyday events that make up a life. Each "chapter" (some only a few sentences long) is a complete and beautiful thought. The author is totally honest with herself - and us - which is not always an easy thing. Thank you, Kelsey, for lending me this book!
Sarah
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. If I am sad, I read this book. If I am angry at my husband and storming around like we have all the time in the world and it's okay not to be gentle with the people we love, I read this book. When I forget how to write, I read this book.

But it doesn't do everything. When I forget how to make Pie By The Yard, I still have to dig up Simply in Season.
Amber
Written in four sections this book is a series of vignettes of individual memories, which alternate between first, second, and third person to tell one story, ultimately about love. This story, these stories, of love, are artfully and thoughtfully constructed by a woman, mother, sister, daughter, lover, wife, who is presented somehow as not weak despite her depression and at times, almost complete lack of coping mechanisms.

I was captivated by this story--drawn in by the short, sparse memories,
...more
Jennifer O'Kelly
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book in the way I might enjoy a light but not vacuous conversation. I mean this kindly. The rendering of significant experiences through light prose works well. It feels unburdened. While I didn't find the prose itself particularly remarkable, there is a sense in which this seems appropriate for the content. The form, which consists of a series of fragments, works well for a memoir - giving the sense that the author hasn't tried too hard to maintain a definitive narrative, and so, ...more
Ken
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read and reread this book because it has so much to teach about life and
about writing. Tuck this in your computer bag or travel case. It's ideal
for a dose of inspiration or reflection when you travel.
Jenny Blounts
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
A friend and writer that I greatly admire gave me this book as a gift, and it was a lovely gift--like receiving something delicate and beautiful and meaningful.

At first, I would open it randomly and read one of the short vignettes, and it was like savoring a small but rich piece of candy. Just a little tidbit; nothing that was meant to make sense in the grand scheme, but just to be appreciated for its own words, metaphors, and images.

Reading it as a whole was completely different, though. I read
...more
Jenny
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
A friend and writer that I greatly admire gave me this book as a gift, and it was a lovely gift--like receiving something delicate and beautiful and meaningful.

At first, I would open it randomly and read one of the short vignettes, and it was like savoring a small but rich piece of candy. Just a little tidbit; nothing that was meant to make sense in the grand scheme, but just to be appreciated for its own words, metaphors, and images.

Reading it as a whole was completely different, though. I re
...more
Mel
Aug 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Abigail Thomas’ book, Safekeeping, took me by surprise. I was several chapters in before fully understanding her technique. “Several” chapters was the span of a mere seven, or maybe eight pages. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. The story does not come together as a whole, not really, until the end. It reads like a diary – a well crafted diary. Some chapters are less than a page, really just notes. Notes to a dead ex-husband.
It was interesting to me how Thomas wove her relationships into the
...more
Pierced Librarian
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I fell in love with Abigail Thomas when I read her memoir A Three Dog Life.

I fell in love with her all over again while reading this non-linear, memoir with spurts of truth and honesty and pain, interspersed with an orgy, lust giving way to nurturing of Jimi Hendrix, the friendship with her sister, a divorce, depression, kindness, parents, death, and birth.

It is so poignant to read a woman write about her life when she has learned to truly live it. Her second husband is dying, her children are
...more
Jane
Nov 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I enjoyed this book but I had some mixed feelings about it. My usual 3 star books are solid stories but with nothing exceptional to warrent an additional star. This one was different. It was not the typical memoir, which is partly what I liked about it (it was original) but it was was also unfamiliar. From the title, I expected to read stories about her life, however it was even less than stories. I'd call them snippets of her life. Each snippet was sometimes as short as one paragraph or as long ...more
Julene Bair
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm amazed at how Thomas put together this memoir. It is a series of fragmented memories--various takes, sometimes in first person, sometimes in third--from her three marriages and, also carefully, about her three children. The technique made writing seem so easy. Next time I write a book, I thought, I'm going to hang a central topic in one corner of my psyche, like flypaper, and just start writing fragments like this, to see what adheres. In this case, the primary focus was on the second husban ...more
Nancy Sharp
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book as part of a creative nonfiction writers' group. I hadn't been exposed to Abigail Thomas' work before and was immediately engaged by the structure of the book and her singular style. She gives us only what we need to know, respecting the reader's capacity to process and reflect in the white space on every page. "Safekeeping" -- more than any other memoir -- inspired me to write my own story, Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living, in a fragmented form with a ...more
Lisa Roney
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-essays
Thomas's writing reminded me of Grace Paley's, which is a high compliment. She's of a different generation, but shares some of the subject matter--love relationships, children, the confusion of contemporary life--with Paley and some of the style as well. This story is told in short vignettes that at first seem random but eventually come together in a way that is revealing but not sensationalist. I think my favorite thing about it is how interesting she makes the ordinary. Taut and beautiful.
Gabi Coatsworth
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This wasn't what I expected. While it is true that there's some beautiful writing, the very short essays, sometimes even just paragraphs, make for a choppy experience. Thomas goes from first to third person, perhaps to distance herself from some of the events, but I think I would have preferred a complete narrative rather than 'scenes from a life' which is what this is. On the other hand, she conveys a lot in a very short space, which is something to be admired, if not loved.
Karen
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What happens to love after the marriage is over? That's what is kept safe in this stash of remembrances about her second husband. Thomas collects her story like spare change tossed in a jar on the top of a dresser. When you retrieve the coins one by one you're amazed by the fortune inside. I'm addicted to her style of writing by the fingerful. There's only one problem: she's done telling before I'm done listening.
Pam Oconnor
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a keeper, to keep and to pick up and just read one chapter or two chapters; which in some cases is only one paragraph. The writer could probably tell a story in one sentence. Beautifully written. The story of life. Loved it!! QUOTE: "You died, and the past separated itself from me like a continent drifting away."
Molly
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this in an afternoon, a quick read but so powerful. Ms. Thomas' writing is so descriptive. I highlighted certain passages, that I didn't want to forget, i.e. her description of a hug, simply beautiful. I had read her other book, "A Three Dog Life" which was written after Safekeeping. It is equally as powerful.
M
Nov 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vignettes from a life. Sometimes funny ("expensive coffee made by furious youths"), sometimes unflatteringly honest, often beautiful "You died, and the past separated itself from me like a continent drifting away."
Chelsey
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
The last of my Abigail Thomas memoirs. With ease and beauty, Thomas turns simple thoughts and feelings into poetry. I truly hope she is curled up with her dogs right now, scribbling her thoughts on a notepad so that I have more of her work to look forward to.
Anne
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Such density in such a small volume of prose snapshots!
Sarah
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I loved the mastery of writing Abigail Thomas employs in Safekeeping -- she manages to convey so much in such short prose. A quick and captivating read, Thomas takes the reader on a journey of her life, as a naive young mother, through deaths and divorces to life as a middle-aged grandmother. The book is clever and raw.
Amy
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
When reading this book, I became impatient and annoyed with people around me, because they weren't as smart, funny or perceptive as Abigail Thomas. Not that I was, either, though it seemed like it.
Janet
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-bio, writing
I loved Abigail Thomas' Three Dog Life and only discovered recently that she had written a previous memoir. Enjoyable and affectionate snippets from a life of love and loss.
Natalie Singer
Brilliant and complex in its seeming simplicity, this book shook me. The way Thomas uses voice and point of view to dissect family experience and personal sorrow and desire is masterful. One of my favorite books of all time.
Jessie
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Not sure how to rate this book--such a lovely, easy read (a terrific companion on a road trip through Alberta); the light, episodic 1-3 page chapters keep a wonderful pace, trimming a memoir's content down to distilled moments--I like the idea, the spareness, the switching back and forth between 1st/2nd/3rd person perspectives; and I like the informing relationship of her sister and her teaching-of-writing. Thomas's account of her three marriages, the mess of love, kept giving me this feeling of ...more
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BookTube: Creativ...: Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas 1 9 Dec 31, 2014 11:54AM  
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“You had a certain way of saying my name. It was the inflection maybe, something you put into those three syllables. And now you are gone and my name is just my name again, not the story of my life.” 10 likes
“She would (if she could) put her arm around the girl she'd been and try to tell her Take it easy, but the girl would not have listened. The girl had no receptors for Take it easy. And besides, "Hey Jude" was on the radio, it was her prayer, her manifesto, almost her dwelling place. She sang it everywhere. The music made her cry then; it makes her cry now. Listening to it now brings back memories so sharp they taste like blood in her mouth.” 3 likes
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