A bevy of notable memoirs come out this month, giving readers intimate access to lives and circumstances that will seem, as accomplished by all good memoirs, to be both deeply familiar and utterly unknown.
- Unremarried Widow by Artis Henderson (S. & S.).
Through graceful prose and a reflective stance, Henderson recounts her romance and marriage to Miles, a solider she could not help but love despite their different worldviews. When he is killed while serving in Iraq, she is left with a final letter, the army’s rituals of mourning, and a life to somehow build anew and on her own.
- Flyover Lives by Diane Johnson (Viking).
Johnson (best known for her novel Le Divorce) might be deeply at home in France, but she was born in the Midwest. Indeed, generations of Johnson’s family have been born there, and she sets out to find their history in this observant and charming account of a legacy rediscovered.
- My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead (Crown).
All readers know that books shape their lives. Mead explores that concept in-depth in her innovative and unique take on the memoir in which she ruminates upon the effect George Eliot’s masterwork Middlemarch has had upon her life. In so doing, she explores the English novelist’s life as well.
- If Only You People Could Follow Directions by Jessica Hendry Nelson (Counterpoint). With a beady-eyed stare, Nelson mines the harrowing terrain of addiction as she maps the lives of her family, each member a participant in their own and one another’s dissolution. Stark, powerful, and innovatively achieved, Nelson’s work offers another singular take on the genre.
- Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart (Random).
The author of Super Sad True Love Story and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook is far from a failure at writing, as he demonstrates in this sad, sharply observed, raging yet tender account of coming of age, of being an immigrant, and of finding a way—as hapless and as hard as that way may be.