Elliott, June 15, 2009 (view all comments by Elliott)
I was thrilled when I discovered that Elizabeth McCracken had a new book coming out since she is one of my favorite authors. Admittedly, when I discovered what the subject of the book was about losing a child I approached it with some trepidation. I shouldn't have. Not only is her writing superb, but she approaches the subject with great tenderness, humor, and moving memoir. By the time I had finished this book I was so glad that I did.
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Wendy Robards, October 27, 2008 (view all comments by Wendy Robards)
Author Elizabeth McCracken lived briefly in France, with her husband, in her early thirties. It is there she conceives her first child - a son named Pudding - and begins to dream of his life and how it will enrich her life. And then the unthinkable happens. In her ninth month of pregnancy, the child she and her husband have been anticipating dies. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination is the story of loss and how one woman moved through it.
Elizabeth McCracken has written a stunning memoir from the heart - a love letter of sorts to her first son and her husband. Her writing is never maudlin, yet is profoundly moving - and despite the bleak subject matter, it even manages to be funny at times. But it is McCracken’s honesty which makes the memoir powerful. She never pads the emotions or avoids the uncomfortable - instead she takes the reader through one of the most devastating years of her life with candor and grace. Lest the reader shy away from the book because a baby dies, it would be remiss of me not to mention that a child is also born and lives in this book…an event that is at the same time joyous, healing and bittersweet.
This memoir is highly recommended, but with a cautionary note. I believed I had accepted my childlessness until I began reading McCracken’s words. I found myself closing the book often to weep, and yet I kept going back to read again. For women who have either lost a child or have never been able to conceive, this is a difficult book to read - but, it is also a hopeful book and one which reminds us we are not alone in our grief.
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Little Brown and Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In this stunning memoir of the death in utero of her first child only days before his birth, McCracken has succeeded in writing a beautiful, precise and heartbreaking account without sentimentality or pity. McCracken, whose first novel, The Giant's House, was a National Book Award finalist, writes that at 35 she was prepared to stay a spinster, 'the weird aunt, the oddball friend,' until she met and married Edward. She became pregnant, and while they were living in an old farmhouse in France they passed over two doctors to select a midwife to deliver 'Pudding' in the hospital in Bordeaux. Woven in with the story is the aftermath of his death, the reality of telling the people close to her what happened, and how she and Edward were able to go on. 'I felt so ruined by life that I couldn't imagine it ever getting worse,' she writes, deciding that if there is a God, 'the proof of His existence is black humor,' which she uses memorably to tell her story. She later writes of the emotions surrounding her second pregnancy and birth, this time in upstate New York. (That she gives birth to a second child, also a boy, makes it possible for readers to absorb the sadness of her loss.) She lends her narrative a spontaneous feel, as if she's telling as she remembers, making her account all the more personal. In the end, it is a triumph of her will and her writing that she has turned her tragedy into a literary gift. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"McCracken manages to limn her poignant story with touches of humor, empathy toward those who struggled to express their awkward sympathy, and, ultimately, hope, in the form of the baby asleep in her lap as she types, one-handed."
by New York Times,
"[McCracken] applies honesty, wisdom and even wit to a painful event."
by Los Angeles Times,
"This is an intimate book....It is also a wildly important book — we do not live alongside the dead the way we ought to: We sweep them off to the margins as quickly as possible."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"This is not a book about the lighter side of losing a child, it never seeks to trivialize her loss, but it does show how honesty and humor can help people survive grief."
by Boston Globe,
"The book is, on the one hand, an incisive look at grief and the terrible weight of memory. But it's also a love story — a paean to McCracken's husband and both of their children."
by Ann Hood, Providence Journal,
"Some readers shy away from books like this. I have been told about my own memoir that it is too hard to read. But I urge people to read McCracken's book, and other books that help all of us navigate life and the things it throws at us."
by Minneapolis Star Tribune,
"[McCracken's] devastating black humor punctuates the narrative."
by San Diego Union-Tribune,
"There's a finely tuned tension between romanticism and realism in her personality and prose."
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