I read a chunk of this book for my CNF workshop this year, finishing it independently due wholly to my undying love for CNF.
The collection begins with JoAnn Beard’s essay “The Fourth State of Matter,” a stunning braided essay that deals with loss in multiple ways. Other essays are briefer, less grim (ie. Annie Dillard’s “Living Like Weasels”).
I’d say my favorite essays in the collection were;
- “The Fourth State of Matter” by JoAnn Beard
- “Embalming Mom” by Janet Burroway
- “Physical Evidence” by Kelly Grey Carlisle
- “Burl’s” by Bernard Cooper
- “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by E. J. Levy
- “The Date” by Brenda Miller
- “Imelda” by Richard Selzer
Apologies for the few I couldn’t find available online. They’re all present in memoirs from the authors, however, and would likely be nice additions to any bookshelf.
There’s little to say cumulatively about an anthology like this, other than that it is full of wonderful prose and worth reading. There were two or three essays in the volume that I didn’t feel compelled to read to completion. Considering that this volume holds fifty essays, I’d say that’s an excellent ratio.
It’s my hope to finish one or two more books before this year escapes, though I make few promises.
I give the volume a 9/10.
Happy reading and happy holidays!