Posts Tagged ‘Joe Morgenstern’

I was very fortunate to read with three of the contributors to the new anthology, Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost (New World Library, 2011) at the famed independent book store, Book Passage, in Corte Madera, California this past Wednesday, May 4.

It was great to meet essayist Melissa Cistaro, whose essay “Calico” is one of my all-time favorites. It reads like a fantastic short story, full of suspense and unusual characters, about a young girl whose cat is a more reliable emotional companion than her own mother.

Melissa Cistaro

Best-selling novelist Jacqueline Winspear (creator of the Maisie Dobbs psychologist/private investigator series) talked about her essay “My Sal,” about her beloved black Lab.

Jacqueline Winspear

Editor Barbara Abercrombie not only conceived of the book, put together the essays, but also wrote the very moving essay “Winesburg” about her scrappy, globe-trotting kitten.

Barbara Abercrombie

And I wrote the essay “Red the Pig” about my pet pig that I raised when I was growing up on a farm in South Dakota. Here’s a copy of my high-school yearbook photo: Yep, it’s me and my pig!

Me and my pig

I was pleased so many pet lovers came to the reading at Book Passage! Many people shared their stories of pets they loved and lost. But rather than being depressing, we all agreed that the evening felt like a time to honor our special pets and to recognize it’s okay to say we miss them.

And one woman even brought her adorable little dog, a Jack Russell terrier-chihuahua-boxer mix.

I like what Melissa said tonight about contributing an essay to this collection. She says it gave her permission to acknowledge her grief for her pet. (I’m paraphrasing.) I understood immediately what she meant. Until Barbara asked me if I’d like to contribute to Cherished, I’d never written about my pig before. It seemed ridiculous and frivolous of me to mourn his loss. As I write in my essay, “Growing up on a farm, I wasn’t a fool. I knew our animals were destined to become food.” And yet, I did mourn the loss of my pig. I don’t think it’s foolish to admit that we love the animals that have graced our lives.

Signed copies of Cherished can be purchased from Book Passage. (Phone: 1-800-999-7909)

Full list of writers: Carolyn See, Michael Chitwood, Robin Romm, Jane Smiley, Joe Morgenstern, Judith Lewis Mernit, Melissa Cistaro, May-lee Chai, Anne Lamott, Samantha Dunn, Billy Mernit, Barbara Abercrombie, Monica Holloway, Linzi Glass, Jacqueline Winspear, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Victoria Zackheim, Jenny Rough, Sonia Levitin, Thomas McGuane, and Mark Doty, (plus a poem by Ted Kooser).

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Wow, am I going to be in some amazing company! I just received the final list of contributors for the anthology CHERISHED: WRITERS ON ANIMALS THEY’VE LOVED & LOST. Anne Lamott! Jane Smiley! Thomas McGuane! Carolyn See! But wait, there’s more…Just reeling off these names, I feel as though I’ve stumbled onto the set of  a celebrity writers’ Ginzu knife commercial. This is very exciting!

The anthology is the brainchild of writer/editor Barbara Abercrombie and is coming out next year from New World Library.

All the essays (and one poem) are about the special relationship we’ve had with an animal in our lives and what we learned from that special animal’s death. Barbara’s essay is about her cat, Winesburg, whom she took to Vietnam and who lived to be 19. I wrote about the pig I raised in high school when I lived on a farm. (You can look up my post \”Red the Pig\” if you want to know more about that situation.)

Here’s the full list of contributors (in alphabetical order):

Barbara Abercrombie, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, May-lee Chai, Michael Chitwood, Melissa Cistaros, Mark Doty, Samantha Dun, Linzi Glass, veterinarian Dr. Robert Goldman, Monica Holloway, Judith Lewis, Ted Kooser, Sonia Levitin, Anne Lamott, Thomas McGuane, Billy Mernit, Joe Morgenstern, Robin Romm, Jenny Rough, Carolyn See, Jane Smiley, Jacqueline Winspear, Victoria Zackheim.

My Pig and I

And if Ellen DeGeneres is looking for a book to read that she’d love, CHERISHED is definitely the one!

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