Synopses & Reviews
In this powerful and unforgettable memoir, award-winning writer Amy Butcher examines the shattering consequences of failing a friend when she felt he needed one most. Four weeks before their college graduation, twenty-one-year-old Kevin Schaeffer walked Amy Butcher to her home in their college town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Hours after parting ways with Amy, he fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Emily Silverstein. While he was awaiting trial, psychiatrists concluded that he had suffered an acute psychotic break. Although severely affected by Kevins crime, Amy remained devoted to him as a friend, believing that his actions were the direct result of his untreated illness. Over time, she became obsesseddetermined to discover the narrative that explained what Kevin had done. The tragedy deeply shook her concept of reality, disrupted her sense of right and wrong, and dismantled every conceivable notion shed established about herself and her relation to the world. Eventually realizing that she would never have the answers, or find personal peace, unless she went after it herself, Amy returned to Gettysburgthe first time in three years since graduationto sift through hundred of pages of public records: mental health evaluations, detectives notes, inventories of evidence, search warrants, testimonies, and even Kevins own confession.
Visiting Hours is Amy Butchers deeply personal, heart-wrenching exploration of how trauma affects memory and the way a friendship changes and often strengthens through seemingly insurmountable challenges. Ultimately, its a testament to the bonds we share with others and the profound resilience and strength of the human spirit.
"In this eloquent, somber memoir about the death of her mother and grieving aftermath, poet and journalist O'Rourke (Halflife) ponders the eternal human question: how do we live with the knowledge that we will one day die? O'Rourke's mother died of metastatic colorectal cancer on Christmas day 2008; the headmaster of a Westport, Conn., private school, she was only 55 years old, and left a stricken husband, two sons, and daughter O'Rourke, the eldest sibling. O'Rourke had shuttled back and forth from her life in Brooklyn and then job at Slate over the preceding year to care for her increasingly debilitated mother. The two were extremely close, and the shock of her mother's illness devastated the whole family (the author married her longtime boyfriend shortly after the Stage 4 diagnosis, then separated just as quickly). Over the last months, O'Rourke was bracing herself, 'preparing' for her mother's death, by reading everything she could during the dizzying rounds of doctors' and hospital visits, until the family could take their mother home to die in a heavily medicated peace. Anxious by nature, secretive, often emotionally brittle, O'Rourke grew acutely sensitive to her mother's changing states over the last months, desperate for a sign of her mother's love to carry her through the months of bereavement. O'Rourke heals herself in this pensive, cerebral work, moving from intense anguish and nostalgia to finding solace in dreams, sex, and the comforting words of other authors. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
What is it like to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, Meghan O’Rourke found that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow. She began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner, trying to capture the paradox of grief—its monumental agony and microscopic intimacies—an endeavor that ultimately bloomed into a profound look at how caring for her mother during her illness changed and strengthened their bond. With lyricism and unswerving candor, The Long Goodbye captures the fleeting moments of joy that make up a life and the way memory can lead us out of the jagged darkness of loss. Effortlessly blending research and reflection, the personal and the universal, it is a love letter from a daughter to a mother that will touch any reader who has felt the powerful ties of familial love.
With echoes of Darin Strausss Half a Life and Cheryl Strayeds Wild comes a beautifully written, riveting memoir that examines the complexities of friendship in the aftermath of a tragedy.
About the Author
Amy Butchers work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review online, Tin House online, The Iowa Review, Salon, Gulf Coast, Guernica and Brevity, among others. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa and is the recipient of awards and grants from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Stanley Foundation for International Research, the Academy of American Poets, and Colgate Universitys Olive B. OConnor Creative Writing Fellowship. She is the recipient of the 2014 Iowa Review award in nonfiction and teaches writing at Ohio Wesleyan University.