Braving the Fire is the first book to provide a road map for the journey of writing honestly about grief and loss. Created specifically by and for the writer who has experienced illness, loss, or the death of a loved one, Braving the Fire takes the writers' perspective in exploring the challenges and rewards for the writer who has chosen, with courage and candor, to be the memory keeper. It will be useful to the memoirist just starting out, as well as those already in the throes of coming to terms with complicated emotions and the challenges of shaping a compelling, coherent true story.
Loosely organized around the familiar Kübler-Ross model of Five Stages of Grief, Braving the Fire uses these stages to help the reader and writer though the emotional and writing tasks before them, incorporating interviews and excerpts from other treasured writers who've done the same. Insightful contributions from Nick Flynn, Darin Strauss, Kathryn Rhett, Natasha Trethewey, and Neil White, among others, are skillfully blended with Handler's own approaches to facing grief a second time to be able to write about it. Each section also includes advice and wisdom from leading doctors and therapists about the physical experience of grieving. Each chapter ends with a selection of writing exercises that focus on the chapter content.
Handler is a compassionate guide who has braved the fire herself, and delivers practical and inspirational direction throughout.
Jessica Handler’s first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir has been named by the Georgia Center for the Book as one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read,” and is one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Eight Great Southern Books in 2009.” Atlanta Magazine named Invisible Sisters the “Best Memoir of 2009.” Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR (WABE-FM), in Tin House, Newsweek, Jezebel, The Writer, Brevity.com, More Magazine, Southern Arts Journal, Defunct, R.KV.RY, and Ars Medica, and New South. She was awarded a 2010 Fellowship at The Writers Center in Bethesda, the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, and a special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. She is a 2011 Writer In Residence at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation (CT), visiting writer at Murray State’s (KY) MFA low-rez program and also at Oglethorpe University (Atlanta) this fall.
Handler has written on the topic of writing through grief for The Writer magazine and Psychology Today online, and has been a featured speaker in grief and writing workshops with The Decatur (GA) Book Festival, The Atlanta Writers Club, Georgia Writers Association, The Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference, The Oxford (MS) Creative Nonfiction Conference, Visiting Nurse Health Care Systems, and a featured speaker for the 2010 VistaCare Hospice Lecture Series. She was featured in the February issue of Vanity Fair, along with seven other fabulous southern female writers.
“...a wise and encouraging guide.” —Vanity Fair
“A wonderfully literary guide to life.” —Atlanta Magazine
“Braving the Fire is the best book about memoir writing I've read. Jessica Handler provides a brilliant, empathic, and sturdy guide to help us begin, develop, and complete a work of art dealing with those difficult subjects we might fear exploring but which will become the wellspring of our most profound work.” —Louise DeSalvo, author of Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives
“Read this book! Braving the Fire is brilliant, profound, thorough, and a delight. Through writing, it takes you to the core of your loss, honoring the uniqueness of your voice and ultimately revealing the beauty and power of your story, whatever it may be.” —Susan Zimmerman, author of Keeping Katherine and Writing to Heal the Soul
“Jessica Handler beautifully illustrates how the power of our stories --well captured and conveyed-- can heal our deepest sorrows. Braving the Fire is much more than a book by an eloquent writer for other writers. It is a must read for those who wish to live a life of transparency and to write with honesty about the journey.” —River Jordan, author of Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit
“Braving the Fire is a necessary companion for any writer who wishes to write about grief. Handler gently and honestly states the difficulty and rewards of recording our most haunting stories. There is a silver bullet of hope in this guide: the remembrances of our lost loves may very well be the key to living vivid lives, healing in technicolor.” —Christa Parravani, author of Her