|Read Dinah's Blog at USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences — Master of Professional Writing Program
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forthcoming from Counterpoint Press in April, 2014
THE OBJECT PARADE
This new collection of interconnected essays marches to a provocative premise: what if one way to understand your life was to examine the objects within it? Which objects would you choose? What memories do they hold? And lined up in a row, what stories do they have to tell?
In recalling her experience, Dinah’s essays each begin with one thing — real or imaginary, lost or found, rare or ordinary, animal, vegetable, mineral, edible. Each object comes with a memory or a story, and so sparks an opportunity for rue or reflection or confession or revelation, having to do with her coming of age as a daughter, mother, actor, and writer: the piano that holds secrets to family history and inheritance; the gifted watches that tell so much more than time; the little black dress that carries all of youth’s love and longing; the purple scarf that stands in for her journey from New York to Los Angeles, across stage and screen, to pursue her acting dream.
Read together or apart, the essays project the bountiful mosaic of life and love, of moving to Los Angeles and raising a family; of coming to terms with place, relationship, failures, and success; of dealing with up-ended notions about home and family and career and aging, too. Taken together, they add up to a pastiche of an artful and quirky life, lovingly remembered, compellingly told, wrapped up in the ties that bind the passage of time. —
ABOUT BIGGER THAN LIFE
Nelson Gross led an outsized life — one in which he played many roles: father, brother, husband, politician, entrepreneur. Killed by a couple of teenagers in a botched abduction and robbery, his murder shook his family in familiar and terrible ways. For his daughter, Dinah Lenney, herself the parent of young children, the loss sparked a self-reckoning that led to this book: both a meditation on grief and a coming of age story. By turns funny and sad, frustrating and fulfilling, her candid memoir conducts readers through marriage and divorce, blended and broken families—and, finally, the kinds of conflict that infect the best of us under the best of circumstances.
Faith and the Writer:
When Life Meets Art: Dinah Lenney
Dinah Reads from "Bigger Than Life"
at the UCLA Extension Writer's Program
LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE, SHELF LIFE [VIEW THE REVIEW]
On September 17, 1997, Nelson Gross, a one-time Senate hopeful, was kidnapped by three teenage boys and brutally murdered; with the money they stole from him, they purchased jewelry, clothes, and hubcaps. BIGGER THAN LIFE (Nebraska, 227 pages, $25) is an account of the murder, written by Gross's daughter, Dinah Lenney, an actor who lives in Echo Park. Although the abduction made national news, the book is less about the tragedy than about what such events do to the survivors. The subject matter is grim but the writing is anything but, as Lenney, with an artful layering of details and remembered conversations, brings her complex, confounding father back to literary life.
— ROBERT ITO
EARLY PRAISE FOR BIGGER THAN LIFE
A driving vocal performance — tour de force momentum for pages at a stretch, and studded throughout with hard-earned human insight. While Lenney can be bracingly acerbic, the affection moving through this work is tidal.
— SVEN BIRKERTS