Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (Paperback)
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"This book slowly builds, one story upon another, with everyday observations on nature and life. Interspersing her grandmother’s stories with her own, each essay is accompanied by an illustration done by the author’s brother. Life in all of its ups and downs, the cycle of life and death explored on a personal level, small details add up in these beautiful essays."
July 2019 Indie Next List
“Margaret Renkl feels the lives and struggles of each creature that enters her yard as keenly as she feels the paths followed by her mother, grandmother, her people. Learning to accept the sometimes harsh, always lush natural world may crack open a window to acceptance of our own losses. In Late Migrations, we welcome new life, mourn its passing, and honor it along the way.”
— Kat Baird, The Book Bin (Corvallis), Corvallis, OR
Named a Best Book of the Year by New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Washington Independent Review of Books
Southern Book Prize Finalist
From New York Times contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family--and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.
Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents--her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father--and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child's transition to caregiver.
And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds--the natural one and our own--"the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love's own twin."
Gorgeously illustrated by the author's brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut.
About the Author
Margaret Renkl is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear weekly. Her work has also appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Proximity, and River Teeth, among others. She was the founding editor of Chapter 16, the daily literary publication of Humanities Tennessee, and is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina. She lives in Nashville.