Today in January Magazine’s biography section, contributing editor Diane Leach reviews Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood. Says Leach:
In a world overrun with memoirs, parsing the good from the overwrought, the treacly, or even the completely faked can be nearly impossible. One need only look at the Frey hoopla (surely I wasn’t the only person, way back when, who questioned his claims of Novocain-free dental work?) to know that a genre capable of giving readers so much has taken some dents lately. The garbage, replete with talk show spots and new age affirmations, rises right to the top, while the finer works -- raw, honest, refusing ersatz comforts -- fall from sight, read by only a sleuthing few. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking transcended all that, but then again, she’s Didion.The full review is here.
Enough soapbox. Ann Hood’s Comfort is about the death of her five-year-old daughter, Grace, who contracted a full-body strep infection that killed her in three days. Comfort was excerpted in a book I reviewed a few months ago, Nell Casey’s An Uncertain Inheritance. At the time I wrote:
You have Ann Hood writing about the Strep infection that carried off her daughter Grace in three days. Grace was five. I have no idea where Hood found the strength to write this essay. Be sure you’re at home when you read this one. And make that drink a double.
Indeed, do read this at home -- at 188 pages, it is an evening or two’s reading -- have that drink nearby (Hood drank single malt whiskey, a fine choice), and keep the tissues handy.