The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays (Hardcover)
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I’ve been anticipating this collection since CJ Hauser had a stunning essay about a broken engagement go viral a few years ago—I’m glad to report that The Crane Wife lives up to the hype! This essay collection is gorgeous and heartfelt.— Lindsay
Hauser builds her life's inventory out of deconstructed personal narratives, resulting in a reading experience that's rich like a complicated dessert—not for wolfing down but for savoring in small bites." —The New York Times
“Hauser’s wry, introspective investigation of her assumptions about love will likely free readers to examine their own personal narratives as well ... ‘The rare happy ending I appreciate is one that makes room for the whole painful fact of the world at the same time it offers the reader some joy,’ she writes. The Crane Wife embraces this philosophy again and again as Hauser excavates her past loves and losses, thoughtfully examines them and declares the pain of love to be worth the risk.” —BookPage
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.
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.
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.
"There's more to this memoir in essays than breakups and so much more to the book than the essay that started it all. An intellectually vigorous and emotionally resonant account of how a self gets created over time, The Crane Wife will satisfy and inspire anyone who has ever asked, 'How did I get here, and what happens now?'...Hauser builds her life's inventory out of deconstructed personal narratives, resulting in a reading experience that's rich like a complicated dessert—not for wolfing down but for savoring in small bites."
—New York Times, Mary Laura Philpott
“A frank exploration of intimacy and romance that doesn’t always lead to a ‘happily ever after’...Hauser is a playful, energetic and always likable writer...I kept thinking about all of the people in my life into whose hands I can’t wait to put The Crane Wife.”
"Hauser...weav[es] together a memoir about redefining love and living life outside of traditional boundaries."
"Brilliant...This collection is not about neat, happy endings. It’s a constant search for self-discovery...Hauser’s worldview feels fresh and even radical."
“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
"Reading The Crane Wife is a bit like following Hauser into the Mirror Maze, her voice as narrator guiding the way through and out. Whether writing about familial or cultural stories, each text becomes a mirror in which Hauser sees herself reflected back. And in her willingness to turn inward, to truly face herself, Hauser’s essays open outward, becoming themselves mirrors into which readers might gaze.”
"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?”
"Hauser takes the reader along on a soulful journey of self-discovery as she brings together smart, astute observations on modern love and life...The essays in this volume offer a fascinating blend of relationships and breakups, colorful family stories, and cultural and literary influences. In fluid prose, she pursues more fulfilling ways to find happiness...What a pleasure it is be in the company of this writer. With clear eyes and an open heart, she finds her way and discovers that unmasking mistakes and vulnerabilities is one way of being strong.”
“Hauser is excellent at capturing the weird, beautiful essence of life...The Crane Wife is full of fascinating, vividly drawn characters...Hauser’s writing has a genuine warmth and kindness that is entertaining and engaging in equal measure.”
“[The Crane Wife] explores love’s many forms with frank, raw honesty, charting an artful path through one woman’s experiences...Hauser’s wry, introspective investigation of her assumptions about love will likely free readers to examine their own personal narratives as well...‘The rare happy ending I appreciate is one that makes room for the whole painful fact of the world at the same time it offers the reader some joy,’ she writes. The Crane Wife embraces this philosophy again and again as Hauser excavates her past loves and losses, thoughtfully examines them and declares the pain of love to be worth the risk.”
"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
“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.”
"Rehab for road-weary romantics...Ultimately these essays throw open the windows, inviting us to redefine what constitutes a love story."
"Brilliantly idiosyncratic. It’s funny, beautiful and strange."
—The Independent (UK)
"The bingeable essay collection...Smart, poignant stories spanning love, live--and moving on when neither go to plan. All threaded with snort-out-loud wisdoms."
—Grazia Magazine (UK)
"Intimate, witty and beautifully crafted."
"The Crane Wife will make you think, laugh, cry and keep turning the pages."
—Red Magazine (UK)
"[A] luminous collection...Brimming with insight and compassion, this is ideal for anyone looking to embrace the unexpected."
—Woman's Own Magazine (UK)
"If you ever ask yourself why you fell for, left, stayed too long, chose badly, questioned your instinct, then this blazingly clever memoir will be a revelation…this is a near-genius look at the search for love."
—Sainsbury’s Magazine (UK)
—The Bookseller (UK)
"What a collection it is: intimate, wry, compassionate, filled with imaginative connections drawn between art and life...‘Invigorating, vulnerable, generous, it is a liberation."
—The Irish Mail on Sunday