Thin Places: Essays From In Between

Jordan Kisner. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-27464-1
Debut author Kisner explores the religious, emotional, and cultural underpinnings of contemporary U.S. society in a neatly poised, sympathetic, and refreshingly unpreachy collection of 13 essays. With the comforting presence of an open-minded, deeply curious narrator, Kisner attempts to come to grips with some of the stubborn mental habits of modern Americans: an inability to accept death, a penchant for piousness, and a damaging insistence on whiteness as the norm. Her essays—about medical examiners, young evangelicals, and a border-town debutante ball, among other topics—are sharpest when Kisner explores distinctions of inside and outside. Those moments stand out especially when Kisner deconstructs attitudes toward the body: “Americans’ unwillingness to prioritize how we deal with the dead... may constitute a failure of moral imagination, but it absolutely fails to imagine the way the living and the dead remain connected, no matter how the living feel about it,” Kisner writes, reflecting on the role of coroners. The prose throughout is by turns lyric and clear, meditative and reportorial—a combination that suits the equal importance she puts on search and on meaning itself. It’s that value proposition that creates the overarching pull of the book, whose essays are as entertaining as they are eye-opening. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 10/08/2019
Release date: 03/03/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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