cover image Drawing Breath: Essays on Writing, the Body, and Loss

Drawing Breath: Essays on Writing, the Body, and Loss

Gayle Brandeis. Overcup, $18.95 trade paper (246p) ISBN 979-8-9856527-1-0

PEN/Bellwether Prize winner Brandeis (The Art of Misdiagnosis) returns with an insightful collection of essays she designates “a map of my writing life,” organized around ways of breathing. As she explains, “Breath is such a powerful metaphor for, and fount of, creativity, because it exists right at the nexus of body and mind.” In “Portrait of the Writer as a Young Girl,” Brandeis recalls when she first felt the breath of writing as “a wind that blows through me,” while in “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying” she recounts the painful breathing of her mother, who died by suicide. She explores how she learned to accept the parts of herself that remind her of her mother, and chronicles traumas including the gradual disintegration of her first marriage, a sexual assault during college, and her struggles with body dysmorphic disorder. The prose is precise and rhythmic as Brandeis keenly portrays her emotions, whether the breathless confusion when a man tried to convince her she was his mother, her pride when her daughter learned to write, or her exhalation of hope that women will learn to “celebrate our bodies just as they are.” Captivating from the start, this evokes the universal from the intimately specific. Agent: Laurie Fox, Linda Chester Literary. (Feb.)