Cover image for Dancing in the dark : romance, yearning, and the search for the sublime
Dancing in the dark : romance, yearning, and the search for the sublime
Ascher, Barbara Lazear.
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Publication Information:
New York : Cliff Street, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 228 pages ; 25 cm
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BD431 .A73 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"Romance is structured yearning. In the romantic moment, we gather and focus that yearning in order to connect with something outside ourselves, believing against all odds that such connection is possible, knowing paradoxically that romance is born in the space between our reach and our grasp."

So begins Barbara Lazear Ascher's Dancing in the Dark. Offering enchantment to a disenchanted age, this mesmerizing new book explores our instinctual, ageless romantic impulse and the essential role of romance in our lives, in nature, and in the arts.

Barbara Ascher's lyrical and provocative prose expands the idea of romance and reveals its powers to redeem passion in our everyday lives. Ascher seeks out the romantic and explores the connections among sex, religion, family, nature, travel, food, music, art, and architecture, offering unforgettable insights that engage the soul and mind.

In her quest for what is transcendent in life, she joins intrepid birders in Central Park, who brave winter cold for a glimpse of the long-eared owl--and for a connection between man and nature. She visits Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house, and Le Cirque's kitchen to witness sensuous pastrymaking. She travels to great museums to view extraordinary paintings and to discuss romance with Sydney Pollack. She attends a Barbara Cook master class and buys a manual typewriter on which to write. Every page of this book draws us into our deepest humanity.

Dancing in the Dark elevates this vital sentiment to a passion-suffused life force, available to all, composed of hope, reverence for the unattainable, and the desire for more. Friendly, humorous, informative, Dancing in the Dark connects life to art, fact to fiction, and present to past.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Folks seeking romance in their humdrum lives are bound to be inspired by Ascher's (Landscape Without Gravity) promise that the romantic quest requires only "the courage of an available heart and freedom of imagination." It sounds so appealing, so accessibleÄwhich is why it's frustrating when Ascher's quest turns out to be a series of mostly elitist adventures. She takes VIP tours of the Prado and Fallingwater, chats with Tom Cruise in Venice and hangs out in the kitchen of Le Cirque 2000, eating creme brul‚e before lunch while comparing the pastry chef to Michelangelo, Gershwin and Balboa. To be fair, Ascher never says that hers is the only path to romance, and she does spend a lot of time bird-watchingÄa hobby even those with limited incomes can enjoy. Although her admiration for the people she observes practicing their crafts is admirable, most readers will likely be frustrated by her numerous exclamations of wonder: her writing is punctuated by such observations as "An architect makes love to the air" and "We are sentinels at the gates of our own lives." As passionate as Ascher is, her book amounts to an exercise in systematically applied hyperbole rather than a sustained meditation on the sublime. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ascher, a former New York Times columnist and a contributor to many well-known periodicals, embarks upon a quixotic quest to define the concept of romance. She describes it as a structured yearning...born in the space between our reach and our grasp. But this is not a dry dissertation; it is a whimsical tale, told with exuberance and wit. Ascher takes the reader from New York to Madrid. Braving the cynicism of modern times, she examines the works of master artists and authors, evoking the classical spirit of romance. She consults contemporary experts, including bird watchers, naturalists, librarians, architects, philosophers, physicists, cinematographers, and clerics. Creating a veritable kaleidoscope of romance, Ascher finally reveals that it is not a mere quarryit is the matrix that joins sentient life on Earth across time, space, species, and gender. This delightful book suggests that we are all romantics at heart. Recommended for public and academic libraries.Yan Toma & Jessica Wolff, Queens Borough P.L., Flushing, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.