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Jul 1, 2011

Review of Waltz of the Asparagus People

Originally appeared in the July-August 2011 AIWCC Bulletin

Waltz of the Asparagus People
Robin Meloy Goldsby

To say that this collection of memoir-styled essays with its vintage-gorgeous cover is a sequel to Robin Goldsby's splendid debut, Piano Girl, would be, to put it bluntly, missing the point. In a similar vein to her first book, the twenty-three short pieces comprising Waltz of the Asparagus People — stories written in the key of wonderful— run the gamut from the sublime (The Glass Piano) to touches of the surreal (Waltz of the Asparagus People) to the absurdly poignant (Naked and The Tattooed Bride) to the one that is guaranteed to have you crying buckets (Little Big Soul).  
But the Piano Girl in Waltz of the Asparagus People is a bit older, married, with children, and has a wealth of life experiences, mostly as an expatriate, to share with us within these pages. It's no exaggeration to say that each story will evoke different emotions, sometimes a whole drawer full, but there is always laughter, even if bittersweet, to accompany them all
I never thought I would be afraid of a man in a wheelchair until I read The View from Here, a superbly written piece that could not have been handled so precisely in the hands of a less skilled writer.
Many of you have probably seen Robin Goldsby perform the introductory piece, Mr. President. Easily my favorite piece, Mr. President hasn't lost its charm after several readings, and it is easy to hear her voice while savoring the coming-home undertones highlighted by the absurd coincidence of meeting a charismatic ex-president who shares a moment of commonality with Robin.
 New York mingles unabashedly with Cologne in these pieces, with jaunts across the globe including a side trip to childhood in Pittsburgh, a touch of South Africa, the American Midwest, a hint of the middle East, Lyon, France, and, of course, Bergisch Gladbach, home to Schloss Lerbach, where Robin Goldsby plays her compositions for the well-dressed and well-fed guests.
But wait, there's more! The German language book, Walzer der Spargelmenschen, published by B├╝cken and Sulzer, was lovingly and expertly translated by our very own Dagmar Breitenbach. And the music to accompany the stories is available on the recently released companion CD, Waltz of the Asparagus People, providing ear candy to go along with the stories you won't want to leave behind when you go on vacation this summer. They can truly be read over and over again.
Both Waltz of the Asparagus People (ISBN 978-1456477547) and Walzer der Spargelmenschen (ISBN 978-3936405507) are available on Amazon in paperbook and ebook format.