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A Strangely Beautiful Remembrance

A Strangely Beautiful Remembrance By Mark Neely   |  September 11, 2022
"I can't remember how old I was the first time I saw my father cook," writes Tomás Q. Morín in his gripping memoir about growing up in a small town in South Texas. In another family's story we might find the father manning the grill at a barbecue. But in this case, the elder Morín is huddled in the passenger seat of the family car
Keywords: book review

One Woman’s Testament to Why “Home” Eludes Us

One Woman’s Testament to Why “Home” Eludes Us By Ashley Espinoza   |  July 15, 2022
This Way Back is a collection of seventeen essays about identity. Johanna Eleftheriou was born in New York City, partially raised there and partially raised on the Greek island of Cyprus; she struggles to accept her identity as an American and a Cypriot, a lesbian, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and one who lives on the southern half island under the control of the Cypriot government whose origins are Greek.
Keywords: book review

A Life, A Marriage, A Family—Intentionally Chosen

A Life, A Marriage, A Family—Intentionally Chosen By Jessie van Eerden   |  June 14, 2022
In American Honey, a memoir-in-essays, Sarah Wells tells the story of a woman becoming a whole version of herself while navigating marriage and embracing a definition of love that abides mistakes and failures.
Keywords: book review

Whose Family Is It: Mine or My In-Laws?    

Whose Family Is It: Mine or My In-Laws?      By Carole Mertz   |  May 6, 2022
The themes of Kandel’s memoir are twofold. First, as a young married couple, she and Johan, her husband, must adapt not only to each other’s cultures—she is American, he is Dutch—as well as the unfamiliar cultures of people among whom they live and work in very different parts of the world. Second, she must deal with her inability to understand the personality of her father-in-law, Izaak, and the dominance he exerts over his wife and Kandel’s family.
Keywords: book review

Sonnet 29: Word for Word

Sonnet 29: Word for Word By Cyndie Zikmund   |  April 8, 2022
The Fact of Memory is an unusual prose experiment. Using Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 29,” which begins with the famous line, “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” the author Aaron Angello takes each word of the sonnet, 114 in total, and uses each word as a springboard for a short ruminative essay.
Keywords: book review

The Writer-on-Writer Memoir

The Writer-on-Writer Memoir By Thomas Larson   |  March 15, 2022
Emerging in the midlife of the ongoing memoir explosion is what is variously called the bibliomemoir, the memoir/biography, or the writer-on-writer memoir.
Keywords: book review

The House That Rape Built

The House That Rape Built By Emily Waples   |  February 4, 2022
This enduring presence is no small feat, especially when—as Saterstrom intimates by way of, or rather in lieu of, closure—the dominant cultural narrative is that which comes after: the meaning-of, the healing-from, the accounting-for, the reckoning-with.
Keywords: book review

Attention Maximally Paid

Attention Maximally Paid By Sebastian Matthews   |  January 7, 2022
The author chooses one very specific day in her recent past—November 19, 2019—to write a “memoir” about. The day “sticks in my head,” Huber writes, “because of the chemistry of adrenaline, downtime, and notes made in a journal.”
Keywords: book review

Celebration and Lamentation in Place and Time

Celebration and Lamentation in Place and Time By Robert Root   |  December 10, 2021
Robert Miltner is best known as a prose poet and most of the pieces here reflect in their brevity the concentrated lyricism of his poetry even as their perspectives are expanded and enhanced. If Robert Miltner gives us intimate reflections on interrelations in place, Barbara Hurd offers a most expansive perspective on existence. In The Epilogues: Afterwords on the Planet, her reflections are separated by brief comments about the extinctions the planet has witnessed since its creation, including the sixth extinction that we’re living through now.
Keywords: book review

Meditative, Lyric, Useful: Two New Books on Writing

Meditative, Lyric, Useful: Two New Books on Writing By Marcia Meier   |  November 5, 2021
From Michigan and Milkweed come two new books about writing, personal explorations on self, identity, and nonfiction form.
Keywords: book review

The Weight of Grief Goes Round and Round

The Weight of Grief Goes Round and Round By Penny Guisinger   |  October 1, 2021
Tarn Wilson’s memoir in essays, In Praise of Inadequate Gifts, has things to teach us about unusual topics.
Keywords: book review

Noticing as Rebellion, as Resistance

Noticing as Rebellion, as Resistance By Emily Dillon   |  September 10, 2021
In his new book, Diary of a Young Naturalist, McAnulty, who is seventeen and lives with autism, writes autobiographically about environmental conservation and activism.
Keywords: book review

We Don't Know Their Names. But We Know Their Character.

We Don't Know Their Names. But We Know Their Character. By Katy Major   |  August 13, 2021
David Lazar’s latest collection, The Celeste Holm Syndrome: On Character Actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age, is an artfully attuned set of essays that analyzes the delightful nuances of cinema’s Golden Age and the author’s love of its movies.
Keywords: book review

Big Ideas in Bite-Sized Essays

Big Ideas in Bite-Sized Essays By Rebekah Hoffer   |  July 2, 2021
Jason Schwartzman’s first book, No One You Know, contains sixty-two essays—many of them just a few paragraphs long—in a concise 155 pages. Each tiny essay in this fragmented collection illustrates a brief, memorable interaction with a stranger, creating the effect of a photo collage.
Keywords: book review

We Might As Well Die Laughing

We Might As Well Die Laughing By David MacWilliams   |  June 4, 2021
John Rember’s essay collection is both delightful and depressing. The ten essays, each divided into ten segments (thus, the “hundred little pieces”), flesh out his perspective as our civilization and its natural environment crumbles.
Keywords: book review

Essays All: However We Decide to Collect Them

Essays All: However We Decide to Collect Them By Beth Alvarado   |  May 4, 2021
When I was sending out an early version of my manuscript, Anxious Attachments (2019), several agents, who were all interested in the book, asked me to revise it so it would be a “memoir in essays” and not an essay collection, as I thought of the book.
Keywords: book review

Exorcising, Freeing, and Healing Trauma

Exorcising, Freeing, and Healing Trauma By Krystal Sierra   |  April 2, 2021
Extreme. That’s one way to describe David Tromblay’s As You Were. Another way is horrific. A memoir that speaks to American Indian art, culture, history, and tradition, is not this one. Instead, Tromblay’s is a discovery of self only after he has lived to tell the tale, centering his trauma and survival as explicit indicators of his character.
Keywords: book review

Next Stop, Middle-Aged Fatherhood

Next Stop, Middle-Aged Fatherhood By Cyndie Zikmund   |  March 2, 2021
Franklin, the author of another University of Nebraska collection, My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married, is the father of three boys and is about to turn forty. He has challenges teaching his children how to become good men while he struggles with more global concerns such as social injustice, the meaning of life, and the American mythologies we impart to our children.
Keywords: book review

The People We Once Were

The People We Once Were By Mark Neely   |  February 5, 2021
At the heart of Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn’s impressive debut is the moment when, after being found by her mother in a state of distress, she winds up, at eighteen, in a locked hospital ward and is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Keywords: book review

Meditative Naturalist, Intimate Essayist, Visionary Author

Meditative Naturalist, Intimate Essayist, Visionary Author By Robert Root   |  January 8, 2021
I began reading the essays of Scott Russell Sanders when I encountered “The Inheritance of Tools” in The Best American Essays 1987. I’ve collected his books of essays ever since and, as a life-long resident of Great Lakes states, have felt a strong sense of identification with works like Secrets of the Universe, Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World, Writing From the Center, and Hunting for Hope: A Father’s Journeys.
Keywords: book review

Reckoning with Not-Knowing

Reckoning with Not-Knowing By Joanna Eleftheriou   |  December 2, 2020
Two wonderfully readable recent books probe the authors’ past losses in order to reimagine their and our futures. Dispatches from the End of Ice by Beth Peterson and The Memory Eaters by Elizabeth Kadetsky look towards Norway, France, and the influence Northern Europe has long had on American thought.
Keywords: book review

What It Means to Bless

What It Means to Bless By Debbie Hagan   |  November 2, 2020
In 1959, twelve-year-old Orr rises early with his three brothers, heads to the field with their father. They shoot their rifles and kill a deer. Just as they celebrate, Orr’s gun goes off again, this time killing his eight-year-old brother, Peter.
Keywords: book review

The Cadence of an Individual Heartbeat

The Cadence of an Individual Heartbeat By Tarn Wilson   |  October 2, 2020
“I’ve always been a hungry reader,” Rebecca McClanahan writes in her newest collection In the Key of New York. Me too. And I often read as I eat: I gobble. But, as with certain transcendent meals, there are books that, from the first page, ask that I slow down and savor: hold the book carefully, turn the pages mindfully. McClanahan’s memoir-in-essays is just such a book. As I read, I found myself asking what qualities define writing that both enlivens and stills the reader.
Keywords: book review

Bathing (Again) at 9600 Feet

Bathing (Again) at 9600 Feet By Jill Christman   |  September 2, 2020
Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children has a sub-subtitle that appears only on the title page: Essays from 9600 feet, an ascension to yet another layer, so Winograd. I will begin at that altitude, in the Colorado cabin Winograd built with her husband Leonard—who features frequently in these pages as voice of reason, asker of crucial questions (“Where are the bees?”), cracker of jokes, watcher of sky, and bearer of arachnid mercy in the form of an oft-used spider jar.
Keywords: book review

Relighting the Candle

Relighting the Candle By RenĂ©e E. D’Aoust   |  August 3, 2020
In Sonja Livingston’s The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion, the author is drawn to explore her youth in the Catholic Church. She longs to return to the intertwined experience of childhood and faith when the two were inseparable.
Keywords: book review

How to Save Yourself in Nine Steps

How to Save Yourself in Nine Steps By Deborah L. Hall   |  July 9, 2020
I was so immersed in Judith Sara Gelt’s memoir Reckless Steps Toward Sanity about her life growing up in a Denver neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s that I kept entering a time warp. It’s not fair to Gelt’s story that my own memories of living during the same era kept flashing through. Gelt sent my senses hurdling back in time with the mention of TV shows or magazines, filling my head with jingles and laugh tracks and the sound of Stevie Wonder’s voice.
Keywords: book review

Haunted by Sandy Hook

Haunted by Sandy Hook By Joy Gaines-Friedler   |  June 3, 2020
Carol Ann Davis’s collection of nine essays is a memoir, a treatise on aesthetic expression, and a philosophical journey through the aftermath of what was, in 2012, the deadliest school shooting in American history. Her son Willem, seven at the time, was at Hawley Elementary, one mile away from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Keywords: book review

Kevin Honold Wins 2019 River Teeth Book Prize

Kevin Honold Wins 2019 River Teeth Book Prize May 12, 2020
We are thrilled to announce that Kevin Honold is the winner of this year’s River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. His winning manuscript, The Rock Cycle, will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in Spring 2021.

Scholar’s Sensibility, Poet’s Eye

Scholar’s Sensibility, Poet’s Eye By Robert Root   |  May 1, 2020
Since 1926 the John Burroughs Association has awarded its medal to nature writers, many of whom I’ve heard of (Carson, Eiseley, Zwinger, Leopold, Lopez, and McPhee for starters) and many others I haven’t but might want to look up. Having read both Sightlines and Surfacing, her 2019 collection of essays, I readily include Jamie among those we most need to be reading.
Keywords: book review

A Tragic History. Its Legacy Still Troubled.

A Tragic History. Its Legacy Still Troubled. By Richard Goodman   |  April 1, 2020
Imagine my delight in finding that Siberian Exile, by Julija Šukys, about the search for her grandparents’ past, weighs in at a mere 166 pages. What I didn’t know was that even in such a brief book about her grandparents’ fates in war-torn Lithuania and Siberia, there is a Gordian knot of drama, pain, loss, and speculation. I don’t think 166 pages can be more complex than they are in Siberian Exile. This is both exciting, enlightening, harrowing, and frustrating for the reader.

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