Of course I would read a book about crying! I can already hear the jokes at my expense from my coworkers. But in truth, this is a beautiful study on the subject - part memoir, part science, philosophy, history and poetry. Heather Christle uses her research in part to make sense of her own depression as well as the mental illness of loved ones and artists who have inspired her. I was highlighting passages and writing notes in margins, something I rarely do! Definitely a book I will revisit over and over.— From Carl
November 2019 Indie Next List
“To be a writer is to be both in constant awe and in constant envy of other writers. Heather Christle is no exception. She is a writer to whom a world of poets look for playful imagery and careful affect. The Crying Book is not billed as poetry, but it’s not prose—it’s something very deeply embedded between genres. There are no line breaks, but there is lyricism and a poetic philosophy of the intimate relationship between things: tears, grief, war, motherhood, friendship, partnership, science, history. The literary world has already likened it to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, but Christle’s work seems to me more delicate, as though each turn of a tear-soaked page allows readers the permission, as Christle puts it, to be held. And to be held by a book is, I think, exactly what a reader craves.”
— Lauren Korn, Fact & Fiction Downtown, Missoula, MT
"A poignant and piercing examination of the phenomenon of tears--exhaustive, yes, but also open-ended. . . A deeply felt, and genuinely touching, book." --Esm Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias
"Spellbinding and propulsive--the map of a luminous mind in conversation with books, songs, friends, scientific theories, literary histories, her own jagged joy, and despair. Heather Christle is a visionary writer." --Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks
Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and now must reckon with her own depression and the birth of her first child. As she faces her grief and impending parenthood, she decides to research the act of crying: what it is and why people do it, even if they rarely talk about it. Along the way, she discovers an artist who designed a frozen-tear-shooting gun and a moth that feeds on the tears of other animals. She researches tear-collecting devices (lachrymatories) and explores the role white women's tears play in racist violence.
Honest, intelligent, rapturous, and surprising, Christle's investigations look through a mosaic of science, history, and her own lived experience to find new ways of understanding life, loss, and mental illness. The Crying Book is a deeply personal tribute to the fascinating strangeness of tears and the unexpected resilience of joy.
About the Author
Heather Christle is author of the poetry collections The Difficult Farm (2009); The Trees The Trees (2011), which won the Believer Poetry Award; What Is Amazing (2012); and Heliopause (2015). A former creative writing fellow in poetry at Emory University, Christle's poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry, and many other journals. She was born in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and earned a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has taught at Wittenberg University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Guelph, and other institutions. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.