Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays

Longlist, National Book Awards 2015 for Nonfiction

Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays by Michael Paterniti book cover, 2015
ISBN 978-0385337021
The Dial Press/Penguin Random House
Michael Paterniti

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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. 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. 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. 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.”

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