Stories of Comfort Food For Cancer

Book review: All the Wild Hungers by Karen Babine (Amazon / Book Depository) Cancer divides – as its very premise, its cells divide, maniacally, so that one rogue cell becomes two becomes a three-pound cabbage-sized tumor. Yet the same is happening inside my sister in a different way, as her child who was once one cell became two cells is becoming a brand new human being we … Continue reading Stories of Comfort Food For Cancer

Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Book review: Kitchen Yarns, by Ann Hood (Amazon / Book Depository) When I write an essay about food, I am really uncovering something deeper in my life – loss, family, confusion, growing up, growing away from what I knew, returning, grief, joy, and, yes, love. Author Ann Hood is also a Laurie Colwin devotee, and her latest nonfiction essay collection, Kitchen Yarns, is beautifully similar to all … Continue reading Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Book review: On Sunset, by Kathryn Harrison (Amazon Book Depository) Never mind that we live in Los Angeles and that I was born in 1961; my childhood belongs to my mother’s parents, who, in the way of old people, have returned themselves to their pasts, taking me along. Author Kathryn Harrison writes a memoir of a slice of her childhood, a well-adjusted one considering some … Continue reading Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Unraveling a Life of Deceit

Book review: The Adversary, by Emmanuel Carrere Book Depository It should have been warm and cozy, that family life. They thought it was warm and cozy. But he knew that it was rotten at the core, that not one moment, not one gesture, not even their slumbers had escaped this rot that had grown within him, gradually eating everything away from inside without showing anything on … Continue reading Unraveling a Life of Deceit

The Working Poor of the Heartland

Book review: Heartland, by Sarah Smarsh Journalist Sarah Smarsh is a fifth generation Kansan who grew up with her family life centered around a wheat farm in the countryside, with Wichita being the closest big city. In her memoir, she chronicles generations of her family, particularly the strong but troubled women in her lineage, and puts their struggles and choices into clear economic and cultural context. … Continue reading The Working Poor of the Heartland

A “Family Album” of Emotional, Complicated Relationships

Book review: True Crimes, by Kathryn Harrison Amazon I see the bravado required to be funny and beguiling when what you really are is old and aching and breathless from congestive heart failure, when what you really are is afraid. Kathryn Harrison is such a tricky author. A writer of quietly powerful, serious talents, her nonfiction can be uncomfortably confessional, and is deeply personal to … Continue reading A “Family Album” of Emotional, Complicated Relationships

David Sedaris on Getting Older, Complicated Families, and the “Sea Section”

Book review: Calypso, by David Sedaris Amazon His most recent publications have been a bit of a diversion for David Sedaris. Last year, he published the first part of his diaries, Theft by Finding, which showed the genesis of some of his well known works, as well as being an unconventional glimpse into his early life and bizarre, often hilarious thought processes. I absolutely loved it, but … Continue reading David Sedaris on Getting Older, Complicated Families, and the “Sea Section”

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, for an essay-cum-memoir-cum-almost poetry collection. It seemed to hit a sweet … Continue reading Life Writing Through Micro-Memoir

Discovering The People Your Parents Were

Book review: My Dead Parents, by Anya Yurchyshyn (Amazon / Book Depository) As the title indicates, this memoir is a bluntly told examination of the lives of the author’s dead parents, focused around her trying to understand them through the lens of discovered materials and interviews. Sentimentality and emotion figure in, but author Anya Yurchyshyn doesn’t mince words in being honest about her complicated feelings … Continue reading Discovering The People Your Parents Were

Heartbreaking, Illuminating North Korean Defector’s Memoir that Lingers

Book review: A River in Darkness, by Masaji Ishikawa (Amazon) What do I remember of that night? The night I escaped from North Korea? There are so many things that I don’t remember, that I’ve put out of my mind forever…But I’ll tell you what I do recall. It’s drizzling. But soon the drizzle turns to torrential rain. Sheets of rain so heavy, I’m soaked … Continue reading Heartbreaking, Illuminating North Korean Defector’s Memoir that Lingers

Sweet, Sentimental Stories of Life Beyond Expectations

Review: Life Without a Recipe, by Diana Abu-Jaber (Amazon / Book Depository) If the world is water, the table is a raft; place your hands on it and hold on. In her second memoir, Jordanian-American author Diana Abu-Jaber explores the role that motherhood took in her life during her forties, and the wracking losses of two strong, beloved figures who often opposed each other; her … Continue reading Sweet, Sentimental Stories of Life Beyond Expectations