cover image Another Word for Love: A Memoir

Another Word for Love: A Memoir

Carvell Wallace. MCD, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-23782-0

In this stunning self-portrait, journalist Wallace (The Sixth Man) examines the role of love in his life. Growing up Black in the “blindingly white” suburbs of Pittsburgh under the care of his single mother, Wallace endured periods of homelessness that ignited a lifelong fear of abandonment. As a child, he learned that “to be a man” was “to be contained, held within, under control,” a perspective that caused him great pain as he entered adulthood and slid into alcoholism. After his drinking precipitated his divorce from his first wife, Wallace got sober, entered a new relationship, fathered two children, and began reflecting on the developments that helped him self-actualize, from attending a queer, POC-focused sex party to learning to say “no.” Early on, Wallace admits that he “can’t resist weaving stories out of aching trails of hurt,” but it’s his directive to “turn yourself over and over and over again to the honest, divine, and wholly annihilating practice of love” that characterizes this account. The elliptical chapters don’t skimp on struggle (including a harrowing, near-deadly confrontation with L.A. police), but what elevates the narrative is Wallace’s capacity for forgiveness and his virtuosic—but never indulgent—prose. This profoundly compassionate volume hugs the reader tightly and doesn’t let go. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)

Correction: A previous version of this review incorrectly stated that the author has two sons. He has a son and a daughter.