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

Elegies for the Departed

Book review: The Glen Rock Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik (Amazon) After a creative writing assignment led her to thinking about dead people she’d known, poet and author Marion Winik explains that it was “as if tickets to a show had just gone on sale and all my ghosts were screeching up at the box office.” This never seemed morbid or depressing to me. … Continue reading Elegies for the Departed

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

Vignettes of Life and Memories from the American Midwest to Italy

Book review: American English, Italian Chocolate, by Rick Bailey (Amazon / Book Depository) English professor Rick Bailey writes a sweet, soft memoir in vignette-style essays stretching from the American Midwest to northern Italy. Musings include high school dramas and levitation parties, medical issues humorous and otherwise, death, home insect infestations, historical perceptions of beans, how Nutella might taste better in Italy than in America, and, a favorite: … Continue reading Vignettes of Life and Memories from the American Midwest to Italy

Vignettes from a Communist Childhood

Book review: The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya Book Depository Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is one of contemporary Russia’s most loved and accoladed author/playwrights, famous for her books of “scary fairytales”(There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby) and “love stories” (There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Killed Himself) with a distinctly Russian twist. In her memoir, The … Continue reading Vignettes from a Communist Childhood

Stream of Consciousness from Auschwitz

Book review: Fragments of Isabella by Isabella Leitner (Amazon / Book Depository) A very short but incredibly powerful memoir of a young woman’s nightmarish memories of Auschwitz, structured in short vignettes and often in a stream-of-consciousness style. It’s emotional and affecting to read not only her descriptions of the experiences, but to grasp the palpable anger so present in her words. Even from her secure postwar … Continue reading Stream of Consciousness from Auschwitz