All posts tagged: loss

Joyce Maynard talks about estrangement, love and loss, how COUNT THE WAYS is personal, but not a ‘thinly veiled memoir,’ and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK Leslie Lindsay & Joyce Maynard in conversation After falling in love in the last years of the 1970s, Eleanor and Cam set out to follow their dream to raise three children on a New Hampshire farm, a parcel of land she has purchased with her hard-earned children’s book royalties. Their life is pretty idyllic, if only Cam would step-up and be a bit more of a provider–overall, there’s love and heart and good things happening in this quiet, secluded life of art and merrymaking. But there’s a tragic accident that brings a chasm between Cam and Eleanor, changing the family forever. There’s grief and blame, resentment, and more, but they will manage. But they don’t. Cam has an affair with the babysitter, the marriage ends (not a spoiler; this is all mentioned on the back jacket). We follow the family through heartache and loss, life and birth, art and stagnation, days of illegal abortion, the draft, computer age, AIDS, early #metoo era, the Challenger explosion, divorce, and so much more. I …

Laird Hunt talks about how ZORRIE was inspired by his grandmother, her ties to Indiana, plus memory, being a literary citizen, the transformative, multifaceted aspects of the color green, more

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously and sparsely told tale of one woman’s life from her hardscrabble days on an Indiana farm and everything in-between. ~Writers Interiewing Writers|Always with a Book~ March Spotlight: Historical Fiction O Magazine’s Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Novels of 2021   This stunning and luminously told story is so affecting, and transformative, too. Set against the harsh, quintessential Midwestern landscape, ZORRIE (Bloomsbury, Feb 9, 2021) is at once a historical fiction of a one woman’s life, but also a study in Americana, grit, and the transformative events of the 20th century. Zorrie is an orphaned child who goes to live with her aunt on a farm in Indiana. She’s twenty-one when she decides to set off on her own, and it just so happens to be in the midst of the Great Depression. She ends up in Illinois working odd jobs and then at the radium plant, sleeping in abandoned barns and under the stars. At the end of the day, the girls from the factory glowed from the radioactive material. Here she meets several young women who become friends–those …

lyrical and hauntinly sublime literary fiction from yaa gyasi about race in america, but also about depression, anxiety, addiction, spirtuality & science in transcendent kingdom

By Leslie Lindsay  One woman’s reckoning with her family of origin, its dysfunctional aspects, a suicidal mother, a tragic event with a brother, science, and so much more.   ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ FEBRUARY SPOTLIGHT: WOMEN WRITERS OF COLOR A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK! INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER I had a feeling I would like TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM (Knopf, September 2020), I had no idea how much I would *LOVE* TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM. Yaa Gyasi is animmensely talented writer who tells a dark story with such luminous grace and compassion. Quick take: Gifty is a sixth-year neuroscience PhD candidate at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She’s studying the reward-seeking behavior of mice and the neural circuits in depression and anxiety and addiction, and with good reason. As often the case, many scientists study what they study because they have somehow been touched by the issues personally. In Gifty’s case, it’s her family members who have. Gifty’s brother, Nana, was a talented athlete with much promise, but before all of that, the family immigrated from Ghana to Alabama(and …

MEREDITH HALL talks about her luminescent novel, BENEFICIENCE, about one Maine FARM family’s experience with a terrible loss, the way we absorb grief, and the subconscious way of art + thinking about characters long after

By Leslie Lindsay  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS  A deep, ravishing, quiet tale of a family upended by grief, a timely and topical exploration of what it means to be a family, and yet divided. Years ago, I read and loved Meredith Hall’s sweeping memoir, WITHOUT A MAP, and knew I had to get my hands on her first fiction, which is every bit as luminous and perceptive. When they met in the 1930s, Doris and Tup’s love was deep and visceral and immediate. Doris leaves behind her mercantile-minded family, where a life running her father’s shop was in the works, for Tup’s family farm, where his parents and grandparents and great-grandparents worked the land and are buried underneath the pines on farm cemetery. Their lives follow the calming–predictable–cycles of the seasons, the land. Cows are milked, calves are birthed, hay is rolled. There’s the garden and the canning, the laundry, the children–all three of them. Each day, they are grateful. But then the unthinkable happens. Faith is shattered. Grief permeates the walls, …

Colette Sartor talks about her sublime collection of linked stories in ONCE REMOVED, but also how she never intended to write a collection; the grittier side to L.A., a study in storymapping and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  Stunning collection of interlinked stories featuring strong, yet vulnerable women, exploring fears, desires, earned raw emotion, and so much more. ~FICTION FRIDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ FLANNERY O’CONNOR AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION I am literally swooning over this collection of interlinked stories by Colette Sartor. ONCE REMOVED: Stories (University of Georgia Press, September 2019) and winner of the Flannery O’Conner Award for Short Fiction, shimmers with radiant, but unsettling characters in authentic situations. It’s mostly about intimacy–and I’m not talking about sex here–it’s the voids and turns of life brimming with emotional complexity. It’s about babies and meals, traditions, and customs. It’s about houses and homes; leaving and going; about love and grief, fierce natures and grudge-holders. It’s about disillusionment and estrangement. The prose is pounding with pulse, and yet, there’s a lyrical restraint here, too. Sartor strips away the facade we fallible humans hide behind, revealing the (sometimes) crumbling foundation. She excavates the fears, desires, secrets in ways that are surprising and while troublesome, are also delightful. The emotion here is raw, but it’s …

Lush and graceful reflections on life, love, family, and nature–it’s about the South and the interstitial space between humans and the natural world

By Leslie Lindsay  From NYT opinion writer Margaret Renkel comes the most luscious and unique portrait of a family, how it’s touched by love and loss, and also nature.  ~WeekEND Reading~ The Today Show’s “Read With Jenna”  book-club pick for December A finalist for the Southern Book Prize Highlighted in year-end lists by The A.V. Club, the New Statesman, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, BookPage, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Iowa Public Radio Growing up in Alabama, Margaret was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents—her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father—and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver. Braided into the overall narrative, she offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. There’s love and heartache, detailed and gorgeous descriptions of nests, wings, red-tailed hawks, fluffy bunny fur, even snakes and orb spiders, bees, ladybugs, more. These two threads–the human connection and the animal world–haunt and harmonize …

Helen Phillips on THE NEED: how she couldn’t have written this speculative fiction if she wasn’t a mother, reconciling love and loss, a fabulous reading list, and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  Eerie, speculative fiction with a slight thriller aspect, THE NEED is existential, mind-bending, and gloriously rendered.  I have a very teetering TBR bookshelf at home and on it are several Helen Phillips novels. Her stories are wild and brilliant and a bit eccentric. That’s what I like about her work. It’s not the mundane. It’s like a fever dream, those little bits of oddities that keep us awake at night, but we don’t do anything more with because, well…we don’t know how. Or we think they’re ‘too minute’ to flesh out into a whole story. THE NEED (Simon & Schuster, July 2019) is clever and strange and distorted, but I loved it. You may read the first lines of the synopsis and see that Molly is a mother of young children and there’s an intruder in the house and automatically think this is domestic thriller. It’s not. THE NEED is a literary exploration of what it means to be a mother, but also a study in identity, empathy, fear, the joys and insecurities and also the miseries of motherhood. It’s gorgeously, lushly …

Bianca Marais takes us back to post-Apartheid South Africa in her stunning new book, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH, about several strong-willed women, one abandoned baby, how we’re all connected, & more

By Leslie Lindsay ‘ Emotional and powerful read about post-apartheid South Africa combing the lives of three very different women and one abandoned newborn.  I read HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS (Putnam, March 2018) and immediately fell in love with Robin and Beauty and also the author, Bianca Marias. In this new title, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH (July 16 2019), you’ll meet a series of three very different women–Dee (Delilah) an ex-nun with a history, her sister, Ruth (an ex-stripper with multiple ex-husbands), and Zodwa, a pregnant Zulu teen living in a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg. How these three women come together will shake you–and just may have you cheering for each one, but for different reasons. Delivered in short, alternating chapters narrated by Ruth, Zodwa, and Delilah, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH shares its characters’ divergent perspectives on class, race, and faith as it probes closely at the 1990s political and socioeconomic headlines. This narrative is complex and there are a lot things going on under the context–rape and rampant racism, stigma …

Debut author Martine Fournier-Watson talks about how our lives are magical, how it comes from within, her hopes and worries; how to query agents and so much more in THE DREAM PEDDLER

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously and lyrically told debut from Martine Fournier Watson about desires and hopes, grief and love set against the backdrop of a small town in the early 1900s. How could I *not* pick up a book entitled, THE DREAM PEDDLER (Penguin, April 2019)? I love small towns and dreams…so this was exactly my kind of read. The premise here is that a traveling salesman comes to town with the promise of being able whip up a potion for you to have a very delightful dream, money back guarantee if you don’t. So would you purchase a dream potion? Maybe you’d like the chance to reconnect with a lost loved one, have some superpower, a passionate fantasy, or some other personal triumph. Robert Owens comes into a small farming town pulling a buggy of potions behind him on the very day a young boy, Ben, goes missing. Parents and townspeople search for the boy and Robert quietly sets up shop. Before long, townsfolk begin seeking out Mr. Owens to request a dream for …

Does lightening strike twice? Sometimes. Here, Nancy Freund Bills talks about this, healing after loss, complicated grief, and so much more in her award-winning memoir, THE RED RIBBON

By Leslie Lindsay  Clear, incisive memoir about death, grief, and the power to survive, THE RED RIBBON is a tender and tragic exploration of one woman’s experience.  Memoir has such power to shape and inform and this is why it’s one of my very favorite genres. THE RED RIBBON opens with author Nancy Freund Bills’s experience growing up in Montana–the rolling hills, the great expanse of sky, and yet, those out-of-the-blue tragic storms that swept in from the west. And then, many years later, in 1994, Nancy, now a New Englander, is notified that her son, Teddy, and recently-separated husband, Geoff, are caught in a freak thunderstorm. They have both been hit by lightning, one survives. This staggering news shocks and makes its way throughout several newspapers, affecting locals and family alike. But THE RED RIBBON isn’t just about this horrific accident. It’s about navigating the effects of grief. It’s about family and culture, customs, and the past. Nancy not only loses her husband, but also her father, later her mother, and mother-in-law. She goes through a series of …