A Brave, Heartbreaking Look at a Life with Mental Illness

Book review: I'm Telling the Truth but I'm Lying, by Bassey Ikpi (Amazon / Book Depository) It's difficult to distinguish which lies from my childhood are my own and which belong to my family. Which lies I told myself to close the gaps in my brain and which were told to me to silence my... Continue Reading →

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Poet Ross Gay Writes His Delights

Book review: The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay (Amazon / Book Depository) It didn’t take me long to learn that the discipline or practice of writing these essays occasioned a kind of delight radar. Or maybe it was more like the development of a delight muscle. Something that implies that the more you study... Continue Reading →

Rhapsodizing Blue

Book review: Bluets, by Maggie Nelson (Amazon / Book Depository) Last night I wept in a way I haven’t wept for some time. I wept until I aged myself. I watched it happen in the mirror. I watched the lines arrive around my eyes like engraved sunbursts; it was like watching flowers open in time-lapse... Continue Reading →

Elegies for the Dead She’s Known

Book review: The Baltimore Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik Book Depository People do not pass away. / They die / and then they stay. Poet and author Marion Winik opens this second volume of creative short elegies to departed people she's known, tinged with personal memoir, with those lines from Naomi Shihab Nye's poem... Continue Reading →

Life Writing Through Micro-Memoir

Book review: Heating & Cooling, by Beth Ann Fennelly (Amazon / Book Depository) Poet Beth Ann Fennelly writes a collection of 52 "micro-memoirs": mini-essays, a genre idea I love, loosely based around family, marriage, love, sex, and sometimes grief. This book got a surprising amount of buzz upon its release last year, in my opinion,... Continue Reading →

Many Voices Tell Stories of Inequality in America

Book review: Tales of Two Americas, edited by John Freeman (Amazon / Book Depository) Editor John Freeman of Freeman's (a literary biannual showcasing new writing) and executive editor of LitHub edits this new collection of essays, short stories, and poetry on inequality and by extension, the divisions of races, classes, origins and backgrounds, income divides, and other divisive... Continue Reading →

The Life-Saving Magic of Poetry

Book review: Poetry Will Save Your Life, by Jill Bialosky "All poems become, to a certain degree, personal to a reader." Poet, editor, and novelist Jill Bialosky writes a memoir structured around the poems that have helped her through life, imbuing it with deeper meaning and giving subtle guidance and reassurances through turmoil and joy. Sometimes they act... Continue Reading →

Essays from the Outdoors

Book review: Upstream, by Mary Oliver (Amazon / Book Depository) 'Come with me into the field of sunflowers' is a better line than anything you will find here, and the sunflowers themselves far more wonderful than any words about them. Quoting herself, renowned and much-loved poet Mary Oliver opens this collection of essays about nature and our... Continue Reading →

Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Book review: Dancing on a Powder Keg, by Ilse Weber (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1942, Jewish author Ilse Weber was deported from Prague along with her husband Willi and the younger of her two sons to Theresienstadt, the Jewish ghetto and the Nazis' "model" concentration camp, trotted out as a fake village for events like... Continue Reading →

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