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Growing the Soil and the Soul: On Richard Gilbert's SHEPHERD

Sometimes a memoir, spilling into the ken of autobiography, must grapple with an author’s lifelong enigma—his book’s story, the story. As we read, we feel this cyclonic summing-up, the best chance after the life (or as far as the life has got) to say what, in particular, shaped tha Read More...

The Inner World of Caregiving

The Fifth Season: A Daughter-in-Law’s Memoir of Caregiving by Lisa Ohlen HarrisWe could agree that Lisa Ohlen Harris, wife, writer, and, at the time of this memoir, mother of three young girls, deserves sainthood for spending seven long years caring for her mother-in-law, Jeanne, an overweight Read More...

Essaying a Spinning World

Floyd Skloot's Revertigo: An Off-Kilter MemoirWe generally refer to essays and memoirs as if they were distinct forms of creative nonfiction, but when we encounter specific works, those categories seem harder to apply. Is this short first-person reflective narrative a personal essay or a memoir Read More...

The Nothing That Is Not There and the Nothing That Is

Eric LeMay's In Praise of Nothing: Essays, Memoir, and ExperimentsIn Praise of Nothing is both an interesting and a frustrating book. It’s interesting in its attempt to write a postmodern memoir. It’s frustrating, however, because it does not fulfill the reader’s conventional expec Read More...

To the Body Born

You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body by Peggy Shinner“I started my martial arts training on the day the Gulf War began,” Peggy Shinner recalls. It was a discipline she would go on to master and teach. Moving across the page in her essay collection, You Feel So Mortal, with the same agi Read More...

Raise High the Roof Beam, Women Authors

When in 2013 e-books publisher Shebooks launched the online sale of short reads written by women, some folks in the industry perked up their ears and welcomed an exclusive outlet for female writers in the male-dominated publishing business. Since its inception, Shebooks’ digital collection of Read More...

The Infinitely Unending Art of Judith Kitchen

The Circus Train by Judith KitchenA few years ago, as I dashed around a corner at a writing conference, I (literally) ran into Judith Kitchen. Mid-apology for my recklessness, I noticed her nametag and screamed, “You’re Judith Kitchen!” Her eyes held steady—dare I say tw Read More...

A Beautiful Savage Game

Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto by Steve AlmondFirst and foremost, Steve Almond wants you to know he’s a football fan: he’s one of you; he’s one of us. But after forty years of watching the game, playing fantasy football, and mourning yet another Oakland Read More...

Which Way Next?

Hemingway on a Bike by Eric FreezeIn his brief essay, “Dead Weight,” Eric Freeze describes a walk he takes with his dog, Zeke, a walk that ends horribly. He sees a police cruiser descending a hill, his Dalmatian blundering into its path, and there’s nothing he can do but shout and Read More...

A Son Coming Home

The Book of Knowledge and Wonder by Steven Harvey Steven Harvey, in his marvelous memoir, The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, is on a journey to discover and understand his mother who committed suicide in April, 1961, when Harvey was eleven years old. Reflecting on her act, Harvey observes that i Read More...

It's About Time

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah MangusoOn the first page of Ongoingness, Sarah Manguso tells us that she started keeping a diary because she didn’t want to lose anything. “I couldn’t face the end of a day without a record of everything that had happened.”So she Read More...

Turning the Tables: How One Woman Put Food in Its Place

It Was Me All Along by Andie MitchellAndie Mitchell is a “foodie.” She is a serious, hard-core “foodie,” a fact that comes through in delicious, descriptive detail on virtually every page of her 232-page memoir, It Was Me All Along.Today, Mitchell is a food blogger and recipe Read More...

Climbing the High Ridges and Stumbling

Soul External: Rediscovering the Great Blue Heron by Steven H. Semken I should be clear: I think writing well is terribly hard work, and I admire anyone who endures it. Me, I’ve yet to publish a book of any kind, and I don’t teach writing or literature at any college or university, Read More...

What's Left from the End Times

The World Is On Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse by Joni TevisTo begin her new book, Joni Tevis, the author of the equally unusual, The Wet Collection, quotes the Midwestern novelist, Sherwood Anderson, in an epigraph: “Just say in big letters, ‘The World is on Fire.&r Read More...

Here's One for the Bookstores

Days Like This: Good Writers on Bad Luck, Bum Deals, and Other Torments, Edited by Samantha SchoechEditor Samantha Schoech writes, in her introduction, that there’s nothing run-of-the-mill about this essay collection: it is a “vote for a certain way of life. The bookish life. More s Read More...

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