cover image Molly


Blake Butler. Archway, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-64823-037-0

This shattering memoir from novelist Blake (Alice Knott) recounts his relationship with poet and memoirist Molly Brodak, who died by suicide in 2020, when she was 39. Painting the couple’s courtship and marriage as both turbulent and tender, Butler opens the account after Brodak’s death, then returns to their early meetings and catalogs their relationship milestones. He discusses how Brodak’s bipolar disorder and other personality disorders—which were likely exacerbated by her dysfunctional childhood with her father, who compulsively lied and robbed banks—informed nearly every aspect of her life, before sharing a wrenching discovery he made after her death. While reading Brodak’s journals, Butler learned that she’d carried on several affairs over the course of their relationship, and he spends much of the rest of the narrative struggling to make sense of their love, her illnesses, this infidelity, and other “white lies” he’d noticed during their time together. The tone is never vengeful or petty—Butler gracefully and intelligently sifts through the life he built with his late wife, relating their difficult tale in beautiful prose that convincingly conjures their mutual love. The result is a brutal yet beautiful look at the ravages of mental illness and the complexities of grief. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (Dec.)