By Leslie Lindsay
How does one care for and repair ourselves when we find ourselves slipping through the cracks?
~NONFICTION SPOTLIGHT|ALWAYS WITH BOOK~
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A meditation in what it means to winter, this intimate, part-memoir, part exploration, part essay, WINTERING by Katherine May (Riverhead, November 2020) explores all the ways winter is a lesson in self-care, healing, and rejuvenation. I once believed I could live in the northern climate of Minnesota. My mother scoffed, “It’s one of the coldest places we have in the U.S. Why would you want to go there?”
Simple: I had a job at the Mayo Clinic. I also wanted to get away from my wildly unstable, mentally ill mother. Still, her warning, her motherly instinct to shelter me from the harsh realities of a 6-8 month long winter, was somewhat…comforting. As children had been doing for eons, I defied her. I moved to Minnesota. Encapsulated in the snowy drifts and what I am sure was my first real blizzard, I hunkered down. I sat in the bay window of my apartment, where my desk was situated and pounded out what would–in nearly twenty years time–become a memoir about my relationship with my mentally ill mother and the ‘winter’ she put me–plus my dad and younger sister, and countless others–through. After I finished writing for the day, I’d gather my notes into piles, click off the computer and don the parka I wore to the bus stop where I caught an intra-clinic bus to the Mayo Clinic. There, I worked as a staff nurse in the child/adolescent psychiatric ward.
And I hated it. Not the work per se, but the place. Not the Mayo Clinic, but the state. The snow. The cold. The dark.
Eventually, the frozen crust of earth began to thaw. The courtyard outside the unit where I worked bloomed in white and pink and the sky blistered blue. Honey suckle and lilacs emerged. Birds tweeted and the caressing breezes of Minnesota summer tickled my face. My mother, she shifted into a dull, debilitating depression punctuated with anger and sharp barbs to one of silence and then mania. As with the seasons, mental illness cycles. Relationships, too.
In WINTERING, Katherine May shares, with deep insight and perception, her lessons of ‘wintering’: her husband falls ill, her son stops attending school, her own medical issues; plus she delves into other, cathartic experiences such as visiting Stonehenge during the winter solstice, swimming in icy waters, sailing arctic seas, and more. It’s about embracing winter, rather than shunning it. I found the language both stark and warm, a cocoon of rest and retreat. It made me feel cozy. I particularly enjoyed May’s connections to the natural world, how rows and rows of apple trees can be healing, wooden crates, long grass, skeletal trees, the lack of snow, the sheer volume of snow. She takes into into the depths of the house, both literally and figuratively. We examine Plath and libraries and jars and so much more. There’s mythology and hygge, literature, friendship, and tea. Here, we discover how one most endure the hardships before they are gifted the bounty of a new season.
“What we below could not see, Winter pass.”
Edward Thomas, “Thaw”
As for me and my time in Minnesota, it culminated in the birth of two beautiful redheaded baby girls, and a move, no more south than Chicago, but still. I was a mother myself, miles and miles from mine, in a new season. The sun began to shine.
For more information, to connect with Katherine May via social media, or to purchase a copy of WINTERING, please visit:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katherine May is a New York Times bestselling author, whose titles include Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times and The Electricity of Every Living Thing, her memoir of being autistic. Her fiction includes The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club and Burning Out. She is also the editor of The Best, Most Awful Job, an anthology of essays about motherhood. Her journalism and essays have appeared in a range of publications including The New York Times, The Observer and Aeon.
Previously the Programme Director for Creative Writing at Canterbury Christ Church University, Katherine has worked as a literary scout freelance editor for organisations including Faber Academy and Audible.
She lives in Whitstable, UK with her husband, son, three cats and a dog.
Katherine’s agent is Madeleine Milburn at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) and former Mayo Clinic child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. She is at work on a memoir, about growing up with a mentally ill interior decorator mother and her devolve into psychosis. Leslie’s writing & prose poetry has been published in Psychology Today, Pithead Chapel, Common Ground Review, Cleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The Waking, Brave Voices Literary Magazine, Manifest-Station, Coffin Bell Journal, and others. Her cover art was featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, other photography in Another Chicago Magazine (ACM) and Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal; CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine; the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available late this summer. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.
2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA now available.
on submssion/Catalyst Literary Management MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness & Memory
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[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow in Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #bookstagrammer #bookrecommendations]