Love and Other Ways of Dying

Love and Other Ways of Dying

Essays

eBook - 2015
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"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 seventeen 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. At every turn, his work attempts to make sense of both love and loss, and leaves us with a profound sense of what it means to be human. As he writes in the Introduction to this book, "The more we examine the grooves and scars of this life, the more free and complete we become." Praise for Michael Paterniti "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 "I have been waiting years for this collection. In each of these essays, Michael Paterniti unveils life for us, the beauty and heartbreak of it, as we would never see it ourselves but now can never forget it. Paterniti is brilliant--a rare master--and one of my favorite authors on earth."--Lily King, author of Euphoria"--
Publisher: New York : Dial Press, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780812997514
0812997514
9780385337021
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

The essays in this collection are selected from among the best Paterniti's written over his long career. They span decades and many walks of life. From childhood baseball heroes to a Ukrainian giant, from the busy kitchen of the most imaginative restaurant in the world to the fields of a downed airliner, Paterniti clears a path around the world and makes it sound easy.

g
gendeg
Dec 17, 2015

Michael Paterniti writes the kind of journalistic pieces and personal essays that have that slow, delicious build I relish. As with all great long-form writing, the experience depends on you being a good reader. In other words, you have to be willing to go the distance and stick around even when the story wanders, even when you the story seems to digress and lose its way, or when the author seems to break journalistic boundaries.

Love and Other Ways of Dying is a collection that showcases Paterniti’s best work published in Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ. Collections should always be judged by the range demonstrated in the selected pieces and this collection doesn’t disappoint.

In the first story, “The Long Fall of Flight One-Eleven Heavy,” Paterniti writes about the disaster that met New York-bound Swissair Flight 111 as it went down off the coast of Nova Scotia. The reporting is cinematic. Paterniti tells the story from different perspectives: the coroner called to the scene, a TV reporter, the father of one of the passengers. The facts that are thrown to us are visceral. At one point, Paterniti writes how the impact of a plane crash “degloves” the human body, stripping flesh from bone and scattering organs on the water. It is the kind of showstopping story that you read and never shake long after you’ve turned the page. You read what a crash of that magnitude does to the human body and it becomes a barometer for the emotional devastation that follows.

We meet a widow torn asunder by the grief, who talks about reassembling her husband’s hand as she receives a finger or thumb from crash investigators. Families get belongings: clothing and toys picked up from the water. A husband and wife make promises to “stop their imaginations at that place where their daughter had boarded the plane, their minds would not wander past that particular rope.” Paterniti hops from one point of view to another, giving us backstories, giving us that stripped, innocent moment before the catastrophic moment: “Like lovers who haven’t yet met or one-day neighbors living now in different countries, tracing their route to one another, each of them moved toward the others without knowing it. … Do you remember the last time you felt the wind? Or touched your lips to the head of a child? Can you remember the words she said as she last went, a ticket in hand?”

Paterniti walks the line of literary nonfiction and elevated journalism.

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