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Book Excerpt

Books I Will Read Again, Guest Posts

Books I Will Read Again: The Art of Misdiagnosis by Gayle Brandeis

November 15, 2017

When I finish a book, I do one of three things with it: donate it to a local book drive, pass it along to a friend, or keep it on my bookshelf to reference and read again. This space is filled with the books I keep. I hope you like this feature, and I hope you like Gayle’s book. -Angela

The Art of Misdiagnosis is out this week, buy it here, or at your favorite independent bookseller. 

By Angela M Giles

Gayle Brandeis is an amazing writer of poetry and prose and I have been waiting for this book from the moment she announced the project. Although I truly enjoy her writing and look forward to whatever she publishes, Gayle and I share a strange commonality that made me especially keen to read this- we both lost a parent to suicide. Our losses occurred under very circumstances to be sure, but she and I experience a type of grief that is still a bit shadowy in our culture, and it is a grief that is wildly complex. I was curious to see how she was approaching the subject and what she would make of the story of her mother’s suicide and of her own survival in the face of it. It’s a complicated emotional space to be sure, and in this book Gayle navigates it with grace and clarity and honesty. This is an important work, and not just in terms of grief literature. You can also read it for a discussion of family dynamics, or a discussion of mental illness…just read it.

I asked Gayle about her mother and what she would say to her if she could give her a copy of the book. What would she want her mother to understand about why she felt the need to write their story? This is her response: Continue Reading…

Book Excerpts, Guest Posts

Book Excerpt: Rash by Lisa Kusel

October 25, 2017
rash

We love our readers and we love our writers, and when one of our writers publishes a book, we can’t help but share. Enjoy! -Angela

By Lisa Kusel

One night my husband, Victor, turned to me in bed and said, “Sweetie, I think I need to do something different.”

I was so engrossed in reading The Line of Beauty that I only half-heard him and thought perhaps he was referring to sex. But then I saw he had his finger stuck inside Three Cups of Tea.

“Okay. Like what?” I asked right away, not wanting to lose the moment. A potential deliverance from the mundane floated, like steam from a cup of chai tea, under my nose. I gestured at the book. “You want to go to Afghanistan and teach in one of those schools?” Victor had been teaching middle school for over fifteen years, first in private schools then public. He was the most passionate and principled teacher I knew.

“No. I’m not going to drag us to Afghanistan—not with a six-year-old—and by the way, the story takes place in Pakistan.”

“Okay, not Pakistan, but somewhere else, maybe? You could teach anywhere,” I said, clutching at what I thought could be a turning point, a crossroads, a pivotal moment. I pushed the covers off and sat up. “When we first met, you said that someday you wanted to go teach in another country, remember? Why not do it now?”

Now, because I had just spent two years writing what I thought was my best novel yet, only to have it rejected by ten publishers. My agent suggested I let it sit in a drawer for awhile and go start a new novel. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if I wrote my new better book in some exotic locale, perhaps somewhere with an ocean view? Continue Reading…

Book Excerpts, Guest Posts

Not A Place On Any Map

February 27, 2017
leaving

By Alexis Paige

Channelling Harriet the Spy, 1983

I figured Dad’s leaving had something to do with all those times Mom locked herself in the bathroom. Once inside, she would blow like a firecracker, and I would get the spins, the whole house twirling off into darkness. One night not long before he left and while watching The Dukes of Hazzard, Mom sat up as if struck by a thought and then dashed toward the bathroom. Dad rose calmly from his chair in the den and went over to the television and turned up the volume dial. “Go to your room,” he said. “Mom’s going to be okay.” From my room, and with the pillow over my head, I heard only a muffled, underwater soundtrack: Mom hollering, Bo Duke hooting, and Dad begging Mom to open the door. From the crashing sounds, I pictured her like a cartoon dust devil of perfume bottles and bar soap and towels. I could never make out the words that mattered, could never translate the crashes and bangs into a story that made sense.

Years later, I heard a Robert Creeley poem in an undergraduate seminar and read the lines as if in a secret plea to Mom: “Love, if you love me,/ lie next to me./ Be for me, like rain,/ the getting out/ of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-/ lust of intentional indifference./ Be wet/ with a decent happiness.” From those early explosions, I learned only that Mom was fragile and Dad remote on the subject. Eventually, I solved the case of the explosions: they were “episodes,” suicidal threats. Still, I thought if I could give her all my smiles and energy and cheer, that somehow Mom would get happy, that she would be drenched in it. Continue Reading…

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