"Life congregates in the pages of All Things Are Labor and Katherine Arnoldi in her brilliant, ferocious, noisy and lyrical prose wisely welcomes all- mothers, addicts, ex-lovers, ministers, children. It is not simply that Arnoldi is a brave writer and a truth-teller. It is that each of these stories make us truer and braver. This is a beautiful collection of stories. Read it! Read it!"
In the lineage of Tillie Olsen and Diane Di Prima, Katherine Arnoldi writes with revolutionary honesty and deep love. Her characters are working class, are mothers, are artists, are people like you and me--people turning our backs on the fear and obedience we have been taught--people too rarely honored in literature. All Things are Labor is a book that renews faith in art, a book that makes you want to live a better life, a masterpiece.
From Ohio to Arkansas to a gritty New York City neighborhood; from the ritualistic feet cleansing of the Mennonites to the trials and ultimately the triumphs of single motherhood, Arnoldi's exquisite stories are a journey through time, space, spirit, and the artistic imagination. This is art at its highest calling: personal, political, and daring to reach for the universal. In a resonate language that demands we pay attention, Arnoldi's prose pulses, whispers, then roars, singing the lives of the unsung. These stories are about class and the American dream torn open; about the spirit of writing itself and how it is language that can save us, giving voice to the silence and silenced. Katherine Arnoldi is a major talent, and All Things Are Labor is a poignant, powerful, important collection.
Here is fiction driven and formed by such moral and aesthetic urgency, it sings. Whether set in the rural south, rust belt Midwest--just as the rust was setting--or Manhattan's Lower East Side prior to gentrification, these gorgeous stories offer visions of broken and redeemed American dreamers-poor people, single Moms, workers, pacifists, renters. Katherine Arnoldi follows poetry's ancient, sacred agenda: to terrify tyrants, encourage the oppressed, and defend the earth. It works. I love this beautiful book.
How often might one remark of a work of fiction that there is not a frivolous, underconsidered word to be found anywhere within it? All Things Are Labor offers just such an occasion. Katherine Arnoldi's alertly observed, gravely precisive stories are giving and feelingful and bravely original and wise. To read them is to be smitten, enlarged, graced.