The Crying Book, by Heather Christle
Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and now must reckon with her own depression and the birth of her first child. As she faces her grief and impending parenthood, she decides to research the act of crying: what it is and why people do it, even if they rarely talk about it. Along the way, she discovers an artist who designed a frozen-tear-shooting gun and a moth that feeds on the tears of other animals. She researches tear-collecting devices (lachrymatories) and explores the role white women’s tears play in racist violence.
Honest, intelligent, rapturous, and surprising, Christle’s investigations look through a mosaic of science, history, and her own lived experience to find new ways of understanding life, loss, and mental illness. The Crying Book is a deeply personal tribute to the fascinating strangeness of tears and the unexpected resilience of joy.
"An eclectic reflection on human waterworks . . . The unconventional format, combined with the author's vast survey of the topic, provides fascinating food for thought. A surprisingly hopeful meditation on why we shed tears." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Readers are sure to be moved to tears themselves. This is a lovely meditation on life and death through the lens of tears, both those spurred by grief and those by joy." ―Booklist
"The book’s effects are sly and cumulative, relying not so much on any one observation as on associations, echoes, contrasts―a method that reflects Christle’s view of art and life, the interdependence, the complex contagion and repetition of feeling and action and reaction that marks them . . . It’s about grief and friendship, but only delicately so. Christle wants to preserve the particularity of experiences while illuminating what they have in common. Again and again she emphasizes that separation: 'It is dangerous,' she insists, 'to always think one thing is another, every event a metaphor for another.' This is also to say that writing itself is dangerous, as well as essential." ―Lidija Haas, Harper's Magazine
"Stunning." ―Sophia Stewart, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Christle is a poet, and her prose shows it. You will surely end the book knowing much more about tears than when you started . . . Christle invites us into her sadness and along the way manages to unlock the beauty within." ―Jonathan Foiles, Psychology Today
"Why do we cry? Heather Christle turns to poetry, philosophy, and personal experience for an inquisitive approach to answering this question." ―Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29, One of the Best Books of the Month
Paperback released November 5, 2019