The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays (Hardcover)
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A Time Most Anticipated Book of 2022 • CJ Hauser expands on her viral sensation “The Crane Wife” with seventeen further essays in this intimate, frank, and funny book about love in the twenty-first century
“An elegant masterpiece…Wry but also warm and generous.” —Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Hunger
Ten days after calling off her wedding, CJ Hauser went on an expedition to Texas to study the whooping crane. After a week wading through the gulf, she realized she'd almost signed up to live someone else's life.
In this intimate, frank, and funny memoir-in-essays, Hauser releases herself from traditional narratives of happiness and goes looking for ways of living that leave room for the unexpected, making plenty of mistakes along the way. She kisses Internet strangers and officiates at a wedding. She rereads Rebecca in the house her boyfriend once shared with his ex-wife and rewinds Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story to learn how not to lose yourself in a relationship. She thinks about Florence Nightingale at a robot convention and grief at John Belushi’s rock and roll gravesite, and the difference between those stories we’re asked to hold versus those we choose to carry. She writes about friends and lovers, blood family and chosen family, and asks what more expansive definitions of love might offer us all.
Told with the late-night barstool directness of your wisest, most bighearted friend, The Crane Wife is a book for everyone whose life doesn't look the way they thought it would; for everyone learning to find joy in the not-knowing; for everyone trying, if sometimes failing, to build a new sort of life story, a new sort of family, a new sort of home, to live in.
About the Author
CJ HAUSER teaches creative writing at Colgate University. She is the author of two novels, Family of Origin and The From-Aways. In 2019 she published “The Crane Wife” in The Paris Review, which reached more than a million readers all over the world. This is her first work of nonfiction.
"In The Crane Wife, Hauser undertakes a new way for her to tell stories from her life, playing with history and personal history, exploring the possible hidden truths in her family's past and her own. The result is like interconnected short stories but about her life, the person she is and was, maybe even the person she never knew herself to be. Funny, exciting, vulnerable—truly visionary."
—Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh and Queen of the Night
"The Crane Wife is about is the power of stories: The ones we are told versus the ones we tell ourselves; how they shape and misshape our expectations; how those stories can both affirm our instincts and estrange us from our deepest yearnings, sometimes at the same time. CJ Hauser is an old soul with a fresh perspective and an energetic, wandering mind."
—Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun and former New York Times opinion columnist
“Y’all. Read the whole thing. It’s damn good.”
—Aminatou Sow, co-author of Big Friendship
"The Crane Wife more than delivers on the immense promise of the viral essay that served as its source. My goodness is it funny, but also so devastatingly honest and bracing. Reading it is like taking a long road trip with your wisest, sharpest friend and talking the entire way."
—R. Eric Thomas, author of Here for It
"CJ Hauser's The Crane Wife is a masterful work of art that sets the high water mark for what an essay collection can accomplish. Hauser takes the big questions of her life—death, motherhood, heartbreak—and spins them into something totally unexpected and altogether sparkling. These essays will shatter your heart and then stitch it back together again."
—Isaac Fitzgerald, author of Dirtbag, Massachusetts
"About halfway through the collection, I started sending out you-have-to-read-this-book bat signals to friends. Yes, for the wit, yes, for the humor, but also the candidness, the self-awareness, the time it resembled not a book, but a mirror in which I briefly glimpsed myself...This is a book that understands me. This is a book that tickles the part of my brain that recalls who I wanted to be and considers how close or how far it is from who I am now. The writing is cunning, the perspective is refreshing, and it is deeply funny and true."
—Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
"The Crane Wife is brilliant and beautiful—the vulnerability of her viral essay is expanded to include immense humor, pondering and further misadventures of the heart. An absolute must-read. I will be gifting this book all year long."
—Frances Cha, author of If I Had Your Face
"Hauser...weav[es] together a memoir about redefining love and living life outside of traditional boundaries."
“After reading this forthcoming memoir-in-essays by the warm, wise, wry, and wonderful CJ Hauser. . . you’ll have to go fix your face. Were you crying laughing or just crying? Both? Splash some cold water on your cheeks. That’s it. Now, go forth in peace with a new understanding of what it means to live and love.”
—Garden & Gun
"While it’s always difficult to summarize an essay collection, what holds The Crane Wife together is Hauser’s unpacking of emotional truths: who do we love, and why, and what happens when they’re gone? When we’re alone? When we forget what it was like to love them?”
“In this perceptive and probing work, [Hauser] brilliantly parses the myths that shaped her understanding of love...A thrillingly original deconstruction of desire and its many configurations.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] lively, thoughtful, and often funny set of personal essays...[Hauser] makes a welcome effort to talk about both love and culture in unconventional ways...A smart, inviting, and candid clutch of self-assessments.”
“[A] staccato, funny, barbed, metaphor-laced, and thought-provoking memoir-in-essays...[Hauser is] a threshing critic...No matter her focus, Hauser's deductions about human nature are always arresting, delving, fresh, and exhilarating.”
"Hauser’s wisdom radiated out of her viral Paris Review essay, which resonated with more than a million readers. What could be better than a whole book made of that same elegant, precise and perceptive stuff?"
"[Hauser's] wide-ranging and widely anticipated memoir–cum–essay collection...reflect[s] her determination to look for the unexpected and avoid accepted narratives of happiness."
“Perceptive and witty...A principal pleasure of [Hauser’s] first work of nonfiction is the fact that she’s ‘a kind of joyful sponge for the affectations and interest of the people I love.'...For readers, Hauser’s agony is, if not ecstasy, then enchanting.”
"Intimate, witty and beautifully crafted."
—The Bookseller (UK)