Poser by Claire Dederer
My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

70%

12 Critic Reviews

But it's these drifts and digressions that lift Dederer's book above the rest of the mystical-journey crowd. She gives us the poignant story of her faltering marriage and, many years before, the spectacular collapse of her parents' relationship.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The studio was decorated in the style of "Don't Be Afraid, We're Not a Cult." All was white and blond and clean, as though the room had been designed for surgery, or Swedish people. The only spot of color came from the Tibetan prayer flags strung over the doorway into the studio. In flagrant defiance of my longtime policy of never entering a structure adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, I removed my shoes, paid my ten bucks, and walked in . . .

Ten years ago, Claire Dederer threw her back out breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love.

Over the next decade, she would tackle triangle, wheel, and the dreaded crow, becoming fast friends with some poses and developing long-standing feuds with others. At the same time, she found herself confronting the forces that shaped her generation. Daughters of women who ran away to find themselves and made a few messes along the way, Dederer and her peers grew up determined to be good, good, good—even if this meant feeling hemmed in by the smugness of their organic-buying, attachment-parenting, anxiously conscientious little world. Yoga seemed to fit right into this virtuous program, but to her surprise, Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife—and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy.

Poser is unlike any other book about yoga you will read—because it is actually a book about life. Witty and heartfelt, sharp and irreverent, Poser is for anyone who has ever tried to stand on their head while keeping both feet on the ground.

 

About Claire Dederer

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Claire Dederer's essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in Vogue, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Yoga Journal, Real Simple, The Nation and in newspapers around the country. She has taught writing at the University of Washington. A fourth-generation Seattle native, she lives with her family on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound.
 
Published December 21, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 347 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Poser
All: 12 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dani Shapiro on Dec 24 2010

This dark enchantment with the joys, rigors and travails of building a family life is at the center of this fine first memoir, and it’s heartening to see a serious female writer take such a risky step into territory where writers of literary ambition fear to tread...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Dec 22 2010

Her wiseguy tone remains unimpaired, as in: “Never wear a short skirt to a class with the word ‘contemplative’ in its name.” But so does the risk-taking intelligence that prompted the events of “Poser” in the first place.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Carrie O'Grady on Jan 21 2011

But it's these drifts and digressions that lift Dederer's book above the rest of the mystical-journey crowd. She gives us the poignant story of her faltering marriage and, many years before, the spectacular collapse of her parents' relationship.

Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre... | See more reviews from Guardian

Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Joy Held on Mar 28 2011

Those who are interested in one woman's trip through life one yoga pose at a time will enjoy POSER. Everybody’s journey is unique.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Judith Lewis Mernit on Jan 03 2011

But factually speaking, many other women will locate themselves in Dederer's words much more precisely than I do, and people who never do yoga will too. The illusion of commiseration here is really just a triumph of truth-telling, of a writer having the courage to confront her limits...

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Kylie O'Brien on Jan 11 2011

This is a terrifically entertaining book. Whether you are a yoga addict, mother, feminist or child of the Sixties, you’ll love it.

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Huffington Post

Above average
Reviewed by Patricia Zohn on Jan 28 2011

In the end, it’s a hybrid of seeking text (Eat, Pray, Love, Pose?) and bad-mommy confessionals that have been studding the best-seller list for years. But Dederer is such a good writer, so wry and self-deprecating (and not whiny), that she keeps it fresh and grounded in cogent narrative and elegant phrasing even if she treads some of the same turf.

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The Seattle Times

Good
Reviewed by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett on Jan 01 2011

If you're worried about being trapped in earnest thoughts about yoga-as-savior, don't be: "I sat there with my foot behind my head, like a moron. Who puts their foot behind their head?")

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Oregon Live

Above average
Reviewed by Anne Saker on Jan 08 2011

It's telling little observations like those, delivered with a mix of yeah-right with self-reflection, that releases "Poser" from the initial expectation of preciousness.

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Boston.com

Above average
Reviewed by Buzzy Jackson on Jan 07 2011

Dederer occasionally lapses into Erma-Bombeck-visits-the-ashram mode, but in fact her experience with yoga teaches her something profound: how to recognize and face her own pain.

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The New Republic

Above average
Reviewed by JENNIFER BRADLEY on Jan 21 2011

From a marketing perspective, bringing yoga into the mix is brilliant. If the mommy memoir feels a little played out, the yoga memoir is a shiny and new revelation for the same audience.

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Elephant Journal

Above average
Reviewed by Nancy Alder on Jan 12 2011

There is something for everyone in this book: stories of love, family, questioning self worth,parenthood, and yes, of yoga. Dederer’s uses her yoga to show the reader how none of these themes stand alone.

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Reader Rating for Poser
75%

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