Nature, Buddhism, and Philosophy from Gretel Ehrlich

Book review: Islands, the Universe, Home, by Gretel Ehrlich (Amazon / Book Depository)“Some days I think this one place isn’t enough. That’s when nothing is enough, when I want to live multiple lives and have the know-how and guts to love without limits. Those days, like today, I walk with a purpose but no destination. Only then do I see, at least momentarily, that most … Continue reading Nature, Buddhism, and Philosophy from Gretel Ehrlich

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 on a windowsill. I fell in love with Maggie Nelson … Continue reading Rhapsodizing Blue

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

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 “Voices in the Air”. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting … Continue reading Elegies for the Dead She’s Known

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

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

Conversations About the Other Side

Book review: Psychics, Healers & Mediums, by Jenniffer Weigel It’s Halloween! Time for a ghosty post! I haven’t read much recently that’s Halloween-applicable, but as a favorite spooky read, I recommend Colin Dickey’s scary but skeptical Ghostland. Now for the less skeptical… Jenniffer Weigel is a Chicago Tribune columnist, radio host, and reporter who’s already written about her attempts to contact her father after his death, and her … Continue reading Conversations About the Other Side

Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Book review: Among the Living and the Dead, by Inara Verzemnieks “This is why I had journeyed to my grandmother’s lost village, nestled at the edge of Latvia, which is itself nestled at the edge of Europe’s psychic north, south, east and west, or, as Pope Innocent III described it…’the edge of the known world’.  Because I imagined, maybe, I might find her again in the old … Continue reading Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

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 as markers, anchoring her memory to a place or event. … Continue reading The Life-Saving Magic of Poetry

Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Book review: Alligator Candy, by David Kushner When he was four years old, journalist and writer David Kushner’s older brother Jon took off on his bike, riding through the woods of their neighborhood in Tampa, Florida en route to the 7-11, on a quest for candy. Before he left, David asked him to bring him the titular ‘alligator candy’, actually Snappy Gator Gum. Jon didn’t come home, … Continue reading Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth