A collection of interconnected personal essays which explore the author’s complicated relationship with her mother—who was diagnosed with cancer at age fifty-seven and died fifteen years later—and the ways in which their connection was long the “prime mover” of Proctor’s life, the subtle force coursing beneath her adulthood.
Each of the stories in Landslide is a defiant and gleeful riposte to those who would dare treat narrative as a 'process': the humorless autobiographers and analysts who link sad memory to sad memory in what sometimes feels like a competitive bid for pathos without comprehension. Proctor prefers to laugh rather than cry at the wreckage of life—the dissolution of her marriage, the death of her mother—but hers is not the cruel laughter of the nihilist. Rather, it is filled with wonder, with love and patience, and, above all, with faith that one can still find something beautiful among the ruins ... Landslide offers us what Proctor calls 'non-stories': exquisite constellations of memories that cluster around a single, potentially transformative event—an illness, a death, a disastrous friendship, a failed marriage—but never settle into the classic dramatic arc of complication and unraveling, beginning and end. Lacking any apparent chronology, rife with misunderstanding and irresolution, Proctor’s nonstories collapse past and present, present and future. In its entirety, then, Landslide reads like an act of divination: a way of seeing, and thus accepting, the events one cannot change.
Proctor probes their parallels and differences in spare, careful prose, while also examining the very act of telling stories ... Proctor's essays fold time in on itself in order to explore the ways in which past and present overlap and merge. The non-linear form is particularly well-suited to her explorations of sensitive subjects like broken bonds and self-sabotage, which are more comfortably approached gingerly, from multiple angles. But her heavily redacted narrative, however artful, sometimes feels evasive. While expressive of her self-declared commitment issues in a way that a tightly straitjacketed chronological memoir would not be, readers may wonder about what's been elided ... Her remarks about the ending of Godot offer a wry commentary on the state of Minna Proctor in her darker moments: 'The characters are left staggering off the stage, alive to wait another day. It's a sad journey without a grail.'
...[a] humane, revealing essay collection ... It's hardly necessary to share Proctor's life experience in order to appreciate her gift of observation and her talent for concision ... Proctor relates all these stories in crisp, coolly ironic prose that evokes something of the flavor of Joan Didion's writing. Landslide is poignant, tart and insightful. Its only flaw is that there isn't more of it, but perhaps Minna Zallman Proctor will rectify that shortcoming someday.