catastrophic happiness & fear of flying

On Sunday morning, I opened up the SF Chronicle Books section (yes, we still read a "paper" paper in my house) and was awfully pleased to see a photo of Catherine Newman along with this review of her recently published collection of essays. ("Good morning, Catherine. Would you like some coffee?")

Catherine's work is regularly published in Real Simple Magazine, Oprah, Brain Child, the NYT parenting blog Motherlode, and you can read a recent essay over at Motherwell Magazine.  Her essays are fierce, wise, poignant & funny all at once; this quote, included by Malena Watrous in the SF Chronicle review, is vivid and evocative in a way that seems particular and specific to Catherine's writing.

“Cut me open and I’m a tree trunk, rings of nostalgia radiating inward. All the years are nested inside me like I’m my own personal one-woman matryoshka doll. I guess that’s true for everybody, but then I drive everybody crazy with my nostalgia and happiness. I am bittersweet personified.”

Warning :: I loved this book so very much, and also mailed a copy of it to my mother for her birthday (which is tomorrow). However, if you have a Fear of Flying (and I'm not referring to the Erica Jong novel), do not read this book while cruising at 35,000 feet with a warm, soft child curled up on either side of you.  This book makes one so very aware of the preciousness and fragility of those very children; and hurtling through the heavens while reading Catherine's book, with nothing but clouds between my babies and the earth was nearly too much to bear.

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