Heating Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann FennellyThe 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer, and deeply original observer of life’s challenges and joys.
Some pieces are wistful, some wry, and many reveal the humor buried in our everyday interactions. Heating Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments, and awakens us to these moments as they appear in the margins of our lives.
Heating Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
Beth Ann Fennelly began her career as a poet, but over the course of seven books, her work has continued to branch out in terms of experimentation and collaboration. With a consistently beautiful economy of language, Fennelly tells small stories that ask the reader to focus on tiny moments, and how those moments build into the arc of a life. Banks in an elementary school production? The vignettes are consistently entertaining, but always poised, eloquent, and full of moments of tenderness. Over email, Beth Ann and I talked about creative anxiety, her exploration of structure, and the portrayal of middle-aged love.
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When I was a girl with a book in my hand I could go to a place so deep no one could follow. No one cared to, except my mother, an affectionate woman who smarted at her lack of companionship. She must have felt bereft to watch me sink beneath the surface. She must have stood on the shore and wrung her hands, the retreating waves eroding the sand beneath her feet grain by grain by grain. She must have looked to the horizon and seen her own dear daughter gone from her, even the long dark locks, eel-graceful, succumbing.
One day, it struck her how excited she was to jot down the latest quirky thought. The result is 52 very short pieces of prose, anywhere from one line to several pages long, that are all true stories. The micro-memoirs showcase a range of emotions that belies their brevity -- taken from another standpoint, their brevity is what gives them power. Was it liberating to write these micro-memoirs? It was liberating because it felt low-stakes. You throw it away.