The novel is structured as the journal of the protagonist Leah Kurtz. Leah is seventy years old and a retired dancer who is contemplating her life as she has led it and as she is and will be leading it. Such mental and emotional exploration at that age leads us to the place for which Leah is so aptly named, into the heart of darkness with meditations about mortality and ultimate purposes. Instead of colonial Africa, she navigates contemporary America with its jungles of consumerism, idolatry of youth, and pop culture.

Holt’s poetic experiments add to the ambition of this book. From variations on terza rima to villanelles, the poet of the book counters the looseness of the prose entries with the control of conventional verse forms. Much could be made of that: the chaos of the everyday put into perspective through the universals of art or, as Leah the dancer, may see it, the energy of the body ordered into beauty by choreography. Or, perhaps, something more fundamental. At one point early in the book, Leah admits that she would like to see her journal in print: “Why choreograph unless you can see the ideas enacted. I’d like to know if other women my age or younger identify with my quest to understand the difference between truth vs. lies.”

Clarence Wolfshol (professor emeritus and former owner of Timberline Press)

cover of Lost in Echo

Original Cover Art by Troy Boers age 7 ‘2011