Why do we cry? How do we cry? And what does it mean? A scientific, cultural, artistic examination by a young poet on the cusp of motherhood.
'In The Crying Book, Heather Christle makes a poignant and piercing examination of the phenomenon of tears - exhaustive, yes, but also open-ended, such that I was left clutching this book to my chest with wonder, asking myself when the last time was that I cried, and why. A deeply felt, and genuinely touching, book' Esme Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias
Award-winning poet Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and must reckon with her own struggles with depression and the birth of her first child. How she faces her joy, grief, anxiety, impending motherhood, and conflicted truce with the world results in a moving meditation on the nature, rapture and perils of crying - from the history of tear-catching gadgets (including the woman who designed a gun that shoots tears) to the science behind animal tears (including moths who drink them) to the fraught role of white women's tears in racist violence.
Told in short, poetic snippets, The Crying Book delights and surprises, as well as rigorously examines how mental illness can affect a family across generations and how crying can express women's agency - or lack of agency - in everyday life. Christle's gift is the freshness of her voice and honesty of her approach, both of which create an intimacy with readers as she explores a human behavior broadly experienced but rarely questioned. A beautiful tribute to the power of crying and to working through despair to tears of joy.
In The Crying Book, Heather Christle makes a poignant and piercing examination of the phenomenon of tears - exhaustive, yes, but also open-ended, such that I was left clutching this book to my chest with wonder, asking myself when the last time was that I cried, and why. A deeply felt, and genuinely touching, book. - Esme Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias
This is a book about crying, yes, but secretly it's a book about everything: pain, sleep, joy, despair, birth, art, exile, atrocity, language, weather, fish. Christle's genius - a word I've never before written to describe a living author - is her ability to see the miraculous and strange lines connecting everything to everything: 'neither parallel nor perpendicular,' she writes, but simply 'arcs that momentarily intersect before traveling on. The Crying Book is a rigorous and urgent work, but it reads like an intimate gift
The Crying Book is spellbinding and propulsive - the map of a luminous mind in conversation with books, songs, friends, scientific theories, literary histories, her own jagged joy, and despair. Heather Christle is a visionary writer
This is a wonderful and profound look at the act of crying - something human and yet hidden, common and yet mysterious. I found myself reading with a thirst for the tears Heather Christle collects here - instances within literature, film, history, and the author's own life all add up to a greater understanding of what makes us human.