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In Praise of Inadequate Gifts

In Praise of Inadequate Gifts

by Tarn Wilson


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Winner of the Wandering Aengus Book Award, Tarn Wilson's memoir in essays In Praise of Inadequate Gifts explores the varied ways we cope with trauma and loss-and the miraculous, awkward, and imperfect process of renewal. 

Wilson explores a wide range of topics: her obsession with teeth, why she doesn't have children, the summer she spent soldering keyboards for Chrysler Le Barons. She traces the effects of her mother's rape, her confusion after her friend's mother is murdered, her own divorce and struggle with anxiety, and her complex grief after the death of her distant father and mentally ill mother.

Wilson considers these difficult experiences  with curiosity and gentle humor. Her honesty, empathy, and lack of self-pity make us feel we are sitting down with a trusted friend, inviting us to give voice to our own hard journey. Ultimately, this collection is about the redemptive power of kindness and connection. "Love's gestures are so unassuming, so ordinary, so clumsy, so imperfect - yet, miraculously, they hold something larger than themselves, big enough to press back against the darkness." 

Through her experimentation with form, Wilson's multifaceted reflections reveal how we come to understand  our stories and the choices we make as we construct the narrative of our lives.  

Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire, calls these essays, "honest, powerful, and necessary." 

Brenda Miller, co-author of the popular guide to creative nonfiction Tell It Slant, writes, "Wilson shows us how we can tell stories that matter, even when our hearts have broken." 

Renowned essayist Scott Russell Sanders says, "These essays will surely resonate with readers who have faced their own hard questions." 

Abigail Thomas, bestselling author of the memoir What Comes Next and How to Like It says, "I fell in love on the very first page. Tarn Wilson is an irresistible writer and her new book is a treasure. Buy it, read it, tell everyone you know."

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780578868950
Publisher: Wandering Aengus Press
Publication date: 07/01/2021
Pages: 164
Sales rank: 287,070
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.35(d)

Table of Contents


The History of My Teeth

My Perfect Little Life


Whatever Gets You Through the Night

Disaster Man


Hide and Seek with the Dead

A Narrative Break: On Reading After Crisis

Big Kitty

Old Laundromats


Faithful Over a Few Things

Why We Don't Have Children

In Praise of Inadequate Gifts

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