A Reckoning With Loss

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9781936787463 | Paperback 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | 192 pages Buy it Now

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9781936787470 | Ebook | 192 pages Buy it Now

Book Description

“[A] splendid and subtle memoir in essays” —The New York Times Book Review

Having lost eight friends in ten years, Cooley retreats to a tiny medieval village in Italy with her husband. There, in a rural paradise where bumblebees nest in the ancient cemetery and stray cats curl up on her bed, she examines a question both easily evaded and unavoidable: mortality. How do we grieve? How do we go on drinking our morning coffee, loving our life partners, stumbling through a world of such confusing, exquisite beauty?

Linking the essays is Cooley’s escalating understanding of another loss on the way, that of her ailing mother back in the States. Blind since Cooley’s childhood, her mother relies on dry wit to ward off grief and pity. There seems no way for the two of them to discuss her impending death. But somehow, by the end, Cooley finds the words, each one graceful and wrenching.

Part memoir, part loving goodbye to an unconventional parent, Guesswork transforms a year in a pastoral hill town into a fierce examination of life, love, death, and, ultimately, release.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

Praise for Guesswork

"[A] splendid and subtle memoir in essays"" —The New York Times Book Review

"As delightful and multi–faceted as the tiny medieval Italian village Cooley spent a year in, Guesswork grapples with weighty ideas of mortality and creativity, as well as personal and cultural legacies. Cooley deftly captures the local characters, both human and animal, as well as the cultural and linguistic state of inbetweenness she and her Italian husband exist in. A surprising, beautiful, and moving memoir in essays." —Rob Spillman

"Beauty and Sadness, the title of Kawabata's novel, could equally fit Martha Cooley's deeply felt, lyrically precise memoir. Such exquisite descriptions and pointed observations pour forth from this writer, gifted with enviable cultivation and sensibility." —Phillip Lopate

"In her new memoir, Guesswork, Martha Cooley explores the issues of loss and grief. With eloquence and tenderness, using as lenses Italy, the deaths of friends, and the nature of love and responsibility toward aging parents, she has written a lovely, thoughtful book, full of wisdom and caritas." —Roxana Robinson

“Martha Cooley has a natural instinct for the introspective essay. She creates a subtle pulse of memory and reflection, combining a lyric warmth of engagement with a classicist’s restraint of presentation. The people come alive, and the place—Italy—is vivid in the moment even as it is held fast in the long lens of time.” —Sven Birkerts, Author of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age