A Walking Fire

By Valerie Miner

Subjects: Comparative Literature
Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791420089, 254 pages, June 1994
Hardcover : 9780791420072, 254 pages, June 1994

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"Here comes a walking fire," the Fool says to Lear as he sees Gloucester walking across a heath carrying a torch. This novel opens in fall, 1988, as Cora, an anti-war activist, returns to the U.S. from Canada where she has lived for twenty years. A college student in the mid-sixties, Cora becomes politically curious, then joins the anti-war movement. Based on King Lear and written from the point of view of Cordelia, the book weighs definitions of patriotism and loyalty. In her return as in her past, Cora is testing borders between suffering and virtue, idealism and commitment, self and family, and exploring possibilities of change.

Valerie Miner's other books of fiction include Trespassing and Other Stories; All Good Women; Winter's Edge; Murder in the English Department; Movement; and Blood Sisters. She has also published a non-fiction book, Rumors from the Cauldron: Selected Essays, Reviews and Réportage, co-edited Competition: A Feminist Taboo?, and co-authored Her Own Women; Tales I Tell My Mother; and More Tales. She is Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota.


"Here's a good big story of Cora's journey home across a continent and twenty years. Valerie Miner's gift is to make us see again that the issues we too often think of as political are really deeply personal. This is the mission of our best fiction. A Walking Fire is a worthy pilgrimage and a welcome book." — Ron Carlson, author, Plan B for the Middle Class

"I found this novel utterly engrossing. It is smoothly and powerfully written, politically acute, and humanly relevant. The device of re-writing Shakespeare's King Lear from the point of view of Cordelia, moreover, gives the novel many levels of resonance and invites serious study. I have no doubt that this book will appeal not only to a general novel-reading audience, but also to students and critics of literature." — Madelon Sprengnether, author, The Spectral Mother

"This powerful and poignant novel is about the cauterizing of wounds: personal, familial, and political. It explores the lingering damage of Vietnam, both for those who fought in, and those who fought against that war. Valerie Miner's analysis is lucid and unsentimental. When profound political divisions run through the center of a family, there are no easy answers, only temporary truces, and sometimes, here and there, if we're lucky, transcendent moments of hope. For any reader who was politically involved in those turbulent times, there will be a strong inner assent to Miner's work: yes, this was the way it was. A wise, compassionate, unforgettable novel." — Janette Turner Hospital, author, The Last Magician

"A Walking Fire tallies up the costs of many kinds of exile—from family, from country, from every kind of mainstream comfort we build our lives on. Then, through honest and painful detail, daily and undramatic, Valerie Miner shows the kind of strength it takes to pay the bill. This moving novel brings politics back to where it begins and ends—in the life of the family, its secrets, its compromises, and the affection that sometimes eludes acknowledgment—without ever giving up its radical commitment." — Rosellen Brown, author, Before and After