Romano-Lax, Andromeda 1970–

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Romano-Lax, Andromeda 1970–

PERSONAL:

Born December 29, 1970, in Chicago, IL; married; children: two. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the cello.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Anchorage, AK. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer.

WRITINGS:

Sea Kayaking in Baja, Wilderness Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.

Walking Southeast Alaska: Scenic Walks and Easy Hikes for Inside Passage Travelers, Wilderness Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.

How to Rent a Public Cabin in Southcentral Alaska: Access and Adventures for Hikers, Kayakers, Anglers, and More, Wilderness Press (Berkeley, CA), 1999.

Adventure Kayaking: Baja, Wilderness Press (Berkeley, CA), 2001.

Alaska's Kenai Peninsula: A Traveler's Guide, Alaska Northwest Books (Portland, OR), 2001.

Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez: A Makeshift Expedition along Baja's Desert Coast (memoir), Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 2002.

(Editor, with Bill Sherwonit and Ellen Bielawski) Alaska: True Stories, Travelers' Tales (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Kenai Fjords National Park, photographs by Ron Niebrugge, Alaska Natural History Association (Anchorage, AK), 2004.

Chugach National Forest: Legacy of Land, Sea, and Sky, Alaska Natural History Association (Anchorage, AK), 2007.

The Spanish Bow (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska Geographic Association (Anchorage, AK), 2008.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Spanish Bow was adapted for audio (CD), read by Paul Michael, Books on Tape, 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Andromeda Romano-Lax, who has worked as a journalist, lives with her husband in Anchorage Alaska, where she homeschools her children and writes works of nonfiction and fiction.

Romano-Lax's travel and natural history guidebooks to Alaska and Mexico include Sea Kayaking in Baja; Walking Southeast Alaska: Scenic Walks and Easy Hikes for Inside Passage Travelers; How to Rent a Public Cabin in Southcentral Alaska: Access and Adventures for Hikers, Kayakers, Anglers, and More; Adventure Kayaking: Baja; Alaska's Kenai Peninsula: A Traveler's Guide; Kenai Fjords National Park; Chugach National Forest: Legacy of Land, Sea, and Sky; and Denali National Park and Preserve.

She also wrote Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez: A Makeshift Expedition along Baja's Desert Coast, a memoir of a trip she took with her husband and two small children that was inspired by Steinbeck's Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941). Steinbeck and biologist Ed Ricketts collected and documented sea creatures, and Romano-Lax and her husband wanted to determine if the creatures Steinbeck had catalogued were still in evidence. The family's trip took two months, and they covered four thousand miles in a twenty-four-foot sailboat that was piloted by Romano-Lax's brother-in-law. They also traveled by bus, rental car, kayak, and by foot when the captain left them midway through the journey. The author includes profiles of the various towns and villages through which they passed, and in her account, Romano-Lax writes of the beauty she observed, but also of the difficulties caused by weather and seasickness, and the difficulty in performing simple functions like making coffee in a rocking boat. By the end of their journey, the family had run out of money, and the children were recovering from minor injuries sustained on the trip.

In reviewing Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez in Library Journal, Janet Ross noted the absence of photographs, which she called "an unfortunate drawback." Booklist reviewer George Cohen concluded: "Readers will find this a captivating guide to an extraordinary place." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "An appealingly shoestring odyssey chronicled with engaging, ever-ready curiosity."

The Spanish Bow is Romano-Lax's first work of fiction. The author, who plays the cello, has created a cellist protagonist in Spanish narrator Feliu Delargo, born in 1892. Upon the death of his father, Delargo the child inherits a cello bow that becomes his prized and lifelong possession. His benefactor and sometimes nemesis Justo Al-Cerraz, a pianist, is, like Delargo, based on an actual historical figure. Delargo's talent deepens with apprenticeships in Barcelona and Madrid, and he becomes one of the most important cellists in Europe. Other real people become part of the story, including the Spanish royals, Francisco Franco, and Adolph Hitler.

When the teenager studies and performs at the royal court, the queen gives him a sapphire that he mounts on his bow. "And," noted Susann Cokal in the New York Times Book Review, "when assigned a duet with a young lady, he gets a sharp lesson on the similarities between music and sex…. Andromeda Romano-Lax is good at deflating the myth of artistic inner angst. Although ambitious, young Feliu does not manage to become particularly tormented; he is neither plagued by self-doubt nor puffed up with the kind of pride that leads to nastiness, and his talent blossoms."

When Franco rises to power, Delargo and Al-Cerraz separate, but they reunite in Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. There they, and Jewish violinist Aviva, whom they both love, must play at a command performance for Franco and Hitler.

Booklist reviewer Margaret Flanagan described the novel as a "riveting historical page-turner [that] moves inexorably toward a heartrending crescendo." A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded by writing that "for sheer scope and ambition, this is a tough debut to beat."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Romano-Lax, Andromeda, Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez: A Makeshift Expedition along Baja's Desert Coast, Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 2002.

PERIODICALS

Alaska, May 1, 2007, review of Chugach National Forest: Legacy of Land, Sea, and Sky, p. 90.

Anchorage Daily News, September 2, 2007, Dawnell Smith, "National Publisher Plans Big Push for Spanish Bow"; September 2, 2007, Dawnell Smith, "Anchorage Writer Turns to Fiction after Hitting a Historical Dead-End," interview.

Audubon, December, 2002, Alyssa Worsham, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 118.

Booklist, August, 2002, George Cohen, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 1913; August, 2007, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Spanish Bow, p. 39; February, 2008, Mary McCay, review of The Spanish Bow, p. 63.

Financial Times, February 16, 2008, Sue Norris, review of The Spanish Bow, p. 40.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 865; August 1, 2007, review of The Spanish Bow.

Library Journal, August, 2002, Janet Ross, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 126; August 1, 2007, David Keymer, review of The Spanish Bow, p. 73.

Los Angeles Times, September 8, 2002, Susan Salter Reynolds, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 15.

Natural History, October, 2002, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 79.

Nature Conservancy, summer, 2003, Katherine Sharpe, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 86.

New York Times Book Review, September 16, 2007, Susann Cokal, review of The Spanish Bow, p. 15.

Observer (London, England), January 6, 2008, Ben Bollig, review of The Spanish Bow.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of The Spanish Bow, p. 30.

Science, December 13, 2002, review of Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, p. 2137.

Times (London, England), January 18, 2008, Sarah Birke, review of The Spanish Bow.

ONLINE

Andromeda Romano-Lax Home Page,http://www.romanolax.com (April 27, 2008).