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Roots & Branches Series
Just Like That
ISBN 978-1-947980-21-1 326 pages $18.00
Henning's fictional memoir takes place in New York City with flash backs to Detroit in the 70s. The characters are developed through daily short vignettes that build to create in depth portraits. The narrator, Sara, is a teacher and poet involved with poetry and yoga communities in the East Village. She falls in love with her acupuncturist and finds herself helping him raise a small child while living together in her tiny studio in New York City. Both she and Jabari grew up in working class families, married and had children. Sara lost her mother when she was 11 years old, and her father was emotionally absent. Jabari grew up with both parents, but his mother was physically abusive, and unlike Sara, he was African American growing up in a racist society. With shared interests in yoga, alternative health and politics, as well as an erotic attraction for each other, they establish a loving connection for quite some time. But past experiences begin to cause misperceptions and misunderstandings. Sara tries to understand his extreme mood changes and her emotional responses to them. In an effort to see clearly and to emerge from a state of anguish, she begins to write a novel about the relationship. At first, the events in their lives determine the direction of the novel, but after a while, the act of writing becomes a spiritual practice helping her to move forward with her own life.
The words and sentences in Barbara Henning’s autobiographical novel create a maze of longing--the lost object of desire, the pressure of a hand in the dark, the ghosts of everyone she has ever met roaming through the snowdrifts of a dream-like city. At the heart of the book are the questions we all ask: how close can you get to another person? What do you really know about anyone else? Can you ever wash out all the stains? Just Like That opens a door into a future which is already here, and where the elusive questions are all but unanswerable. Henning never stops trying—and this remarkable book is the ultimate account of what happens along the way.
Barbara Henning’s latest novel, Just Like That, chronicles the ways in which traumatic experiences prescribe the patterns of one’s life. The push and pull of creative and destructive impulses propel Sara as she navigates the layered stories of her past and present, attempting to redraft her future with the man she loves. This memoiristic fiction investigates mercurial, meandering desire. Unblinklingly it stares into the complicated chambers of the human heart.
Born in Detroit in 1948, Barbara Henning moved to New York City with her two children in 1983. After a few interim years in Tucson and Mysore, India, she returned to New York, presently living in Brooklyn. She is a poet who also writes fiction—three novels, Black Lace (Spuyten Duyvil), You Me and the Insects (SD), and Thirty Miles to Rosebud (BlazeVox); seven full length collections of poetry, A Day Like Today (Negative Capability), A Swift Passage (Quale), Cities & Memory (Chax), My Autobiography (United Artists), Detective Sentences (SD), Love Makes Thinking Dark (UA) and Smoking in the Twilight Bar (UA); and numerous chapbooks. She is also the editor of The Selected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins (BV) and Looking Up Harryette Mullen (Belladonna). She teaches at Long Island University in Brooklyn and for writers.com. barbarahenning.com