In this moving, lyrical, and ultimately uplifting collection of essays, Michael Paterniti turns a keen eye on the full range of human experience, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of everyday people. Michael Paterniti is one of the most original and empathic storytellers working today. His writing has been described as "humane, devastating, and beautiful" by Elizabeth Gilbert, "spellbinding" by Anthony Doerr, and "expansive and joyful" by George Saunders.
In the 17 wide-ranging essays collected for the first time in Love and Other Ways of Dying, he brings his full literary powers to bear, pondering happiness and grief, memory and the redemptive power of human connection. In the remote Ukranian countryside, Paterniti picks apples (and faces mortality) with a real-life giant; in Nanjing, China, he confronts a distraught jumper on a suicide bridge; in Dodge City, Kansas, he takes up residence at a roadside hotel and sees, firsthand, the ways in which the racial divide turns neighbor against neighbor. In each instance Paterniti illuminates the full spectrum of human experience, introducing us to unforgettable everyday people and bygone legends, exploring the big ideas and emotions that move us.
Paterniti reenacts François Mitterrand's last meal in a rustic dining room in France and drives across America with Albert Einstein's brain in the trunk of his rental car, floating in a Tupperware container. He delves with heartbreaking detail into the aftermath of a plane crash off the coast of Nova Scotia, an earthquake in Haiti, and a tsunami in Japan - and, in searing swirls of language, unearths the complicated, hidden truths these moments of extremity teach us about our ability to endure and to love.
Michael Paterniti has spent the past two decades grappling with some of our most powerful subjects and incomprehensible events, taking an unflinching point of view that seeks to edify as it resists easy answers.
"A fearless, spellbinding collection of inquiries by a brilliant, globally minded essayist whose writing is magic and whose worldview brims with compassion.... Genius chefs, an eight-and-a-half-foot-tall giant, an earthquake, a jet crash, and a president who eats songbirds - the size of Michael Paterniti’s curiosity is matched only by the size of his heart." (Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See)
"Michael Paterniti is a genius." (Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things)
"Michael Paterniti is one of the best living practitioners of the art of literary journalism, able to fully elucidate and humanize the everyday and the epic. In his hands, every subject, every moment of personal or global upheaval, is treated with the same curiosity, respect, empathy, and clear-eyed wisdom." (Dave Eggers, author of The Circle)
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This was just so so for me...
I really enjoyed several of the essays in this book. However, there were also some where I found myself drifting away. In all fairness, I may have had a unrealistically high standard because of all the accolades this book received. What I will say, though, is the author does an absolutely beautiful job with imagery in this book.
- Danielle "My dream job would be reading for a living..."
Incredibly intimate voice for humanity
Everyone is human.
Each vignette is told in such detail without seeming trite or embellished. His voice is so sincere and respectful of everyone. Every person's humanity is teased out, regardless of how strange we find their actions to be. Amazing narration throughout.
- Ed Hodges