Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story (Hardcover)
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March 2024 Indie Next List
“In Splinters, Leslie Jamison tells the story of her navigating her divorce with a young child. It’s a book about motherhood, but at its core it’s about love: falling in love, falling out of love, a mother’s love. I was in awe the entire time.”
— Hunter Gillum, Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, IA
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year: TIME, Oprah Daily, Publishers Weekly, Vogue, Vulture, The Millions, Kirkus Reviews, Lit Hub, The Story Exchange, The Messenger, Real Simple, How to Be, BookPage
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering and The Empathy Exams comes “a blazing, unputdownable memoir” (Mary Karr, author of Lit), the “piercing, intimate” story (TIME Magazine) of rebuilding a life after the end of a marriage—an exploration of motherhood, art, and new love.
Leslie Jamison has become one of our most beloved contemporary voices, a scribe of the real, the true, the complex. She has been compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, acclaimed for her powerful thinking, deep feeling, and electric prose. But while Jamison has never shied away from challenging material—scouring her own psyche and digging into our most unanswerable questions across four books—Splinters enters a new realm.
In her first memoir, Jamison turns her unrivaled powers of perception on some of the most intimate relationships of her life: her consuming love for her young daughter, a ruptured marriage once swollen with hope, and the shaping legacy of her own parents’ complicated bond. In examining what it means for a woman to be many things at once—a mother, an artist, a teacher, a lover—Jamison places the magical and the mundane side by side in surprising ways. The result is a work of nonfiction like no other, an almost impossibly deep reckoning with the muchness of life and art, and a book that grieves the departure of one love even as it celebrates the arrival of another.
How do we move forward into joy when we are haunted by loss? How do we claim hope alongside the harm we’ve caused? A memoir for which the very term tour de force seems to have been coined, Splinters plumbs these and other pressing questions with writing that is revelatory to the last page, full of linguistic daring and emotional acuity. Jamison, a master of nonfiction, evinces once again her ability to “stitch together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon” (NPR).
About the Author
Leslie Jamison is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams; the collection of essays Make It Scream, Make It Burn, a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award; and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and her work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, Harper’s, the New York Times Book Review, the Oxford American, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among many others. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn.
A candid and perceptive look at divorce, motherhood, and personal reinvention. . . . With unbridled vulnerability, Jamison writes of being a child of divorce, the challenges of dating as a single mom, and the overwhelming nature of juggling childcare and working. Splinters is a window into how difficult it is to pick up the pieces of one’s own life while caring for another.
“Filled with heart, humor and unsparing insights, her searing memoir is a standout."—People (Book of the Week)
“In different variations of her signature, beautifully frank language, Jamison writes about her fantasy of stability and her uncertainty as to whether it’s a dream she actually wants fulfilled. . . . In caring for her daughter, she finds — at least on the page — a way to live with it all, the sleeplessness and the joy, the rapture and the frustration, the immense love and the wish to have a single moment alone . . . She's a master at closing nearly every paragraph with what lands as an epiphany.”—NPR
“Leslie Jamison ’s memoir tells the story of the end of her marriage, but it is also an account of motherhood and the way that a life-transforming event can cause a woman to feel as though a part of herself has fractured. . . . It is also an exceptional read, guiding her reader through her thrilling and bitter and fulfilling affairs of the heart.”—Vogue
“Fascinating and sometimes harrowing memoir… A book of unusually clear intelligence and compassion… You will keep thinking about it, remember moments and lines from it, its power increases over time rather than diminishes.”—New York Times Culture Desk podcast
“Intriguing and poignant . . . Jamison manages here that most difficult of literary and psychological feats — subtlety, nuance, and hard-earned empathy . . . Splinters is Leslie Jamison’s most fearless, searching, vibrantly alive book yet"—Boston Globe
“The pages of this first memoir are lit by flinty humor and grownup joy as thought and feeling are joined in prose that’s intimate and exacting. It’s never less than gripping . . . From the sharp fragments of Jamison’s title she fashions a mother-daughter love story that reads like a classic.”—The Guardian
“I can't stand blue cheese but I'm pretty sure if Leslie Jamison wrote a book about it, I would: a. read it, b. love it and c. seriously reconsider my long-standing Gorgonzola bias. That's a shorthand way of saying that Jamison's essays are so compassionate and insightful that she interests you in topics you may not think you care about and shows you new ways to view topics you already do care about it. . . . Jamison is hilarious, with a dry and usually self-deprecating wit in which the jokes are so graceful and surprising that you may need to read them twice.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“You don't have to be a mother to find bone-deep truth in this memoir. You don't have to have loved hard and then lost, gone through a divorce with a kind man who turns cruel, or weathered the COVID-19 pandemic as a single working mom. You just have to be a person with a heart to feel the beauty, the pain and above all, the humanity that runs through this force of nature in book form.”—Good Housekeeping
“Her writing balances perfectly between the subtle and the sublime, crafting scenes of new love that make your heart soar and moments of deep loneliness that echo long after you’ve finished reading. Jamison perfectly draws connections between her most difficult experiences in love and motherhood with her own familial history and our culture’s pressures on women, creating a textured and complex portrait of grief and eventual healing.”—Chicago Review of Books
"Splinters is Jamison operating at the height of her talents. A tale of Jamison’s early motherhood and the end of her marriage, the book is unshrinking, nuanced, radiant, and so wondrously honest—a referendum on the splintered identities that complicate and comprise the artist, the wife, the mother, the woman.”—Elle
"In this exquisite memoir . . . Jamison is brutally honest about the obstacles to balancing creative fulfillment, parenting, dating, and sobriety, utilizing her beguiling command of language to spotlight feelings often obscured in other accounts of motherhood . . . By turns funny, poignant, harrowing, and joyful, this standout personal history isn’t easily forgotten"—Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Jamison is back with her most personal work yet: a memoir exploring the dissolution of her own marriage, the legacy of her parents’ fraught relationship, and the terrifying, joyous promise of her young daughter’s future. You’ll need tissues and a highlighter for this one."—Oprah Daily
“Leslie Jamison’s blazing memoir kept me riveted for the single day it took to guzzle it down. This wry, hilarious, and utterly unputdownable book is a gift that feels like an immediate hit and a forever classic.”—Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of Lit and The Liar’s Club
“Splinters is as sharp and piercing as its title—a brilliant reckoning with what it means to make art, a self, a family, a life. If I were offered one guide as a writer, as a mother, as a teacher, as a human being constantly reinventing herself out of necessity, I’d want that guide to be Leslie Jamison. This memoir is a masterclass.”
—Maggie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful
"Jamison’s genius—a word I use without hyperbole—is her capaciousness, how she gives us the blushing baby and the shitty diapers, the sweeping romances and their residue. We see Jamison half-whirling like Rumi in the throes of ecstatic love for a new daughter, knowing her ecstasy is real because she renders it wholly, alongside the pulverizing lonelinesses of loving deeply. Splinters is a praise song for what remains unannihilated, what has been salvaged from a time—a world—of annihilation. I find in Jamison’s work what I’ve sought my entire life: a rigorous and attentive steward for whom dailiness deepens, instead of diminishes, awe.”—Kaveh Akbar, author of Martyr!
“In Splinters, Jamison offers a riveting portrait of rupture that is at once a page-turner about divorce, a romance about parenthood, a mystery of self after splintering, and a promise that however many times we break or are broken, art and love will never fail to mend us.”
—Melissa Febos, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award winner and national bestseller Girlhood
“Leslie Jamison’s memoir, Splinters, is a stairway behind the eyes of a woman in the midst of transformation, written so brilliantly, and with such a skilled hand, that readers are likely to find themselves peacefully lost even in its darker moments. These pages are so magnetizing that I wanted to race along, but forced myself to slow down enough to savor the language. No one should be this good at writing. This gorgeous book will blow you away.”—Ashley C. Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter
“Splinters is a stunning portrait of the intricate tapestry of human emotions. On every page, in exquisite prose, Jamison unearths moments of luminosity and grace amid pain. Giving language to fundamental experiences of love, grief, and parenthood all too often skirted past, this book is essential reading for anyone who cares about the power of language to help us find solace and recompense.”
—Meghan O’Rourke, New York Times bestselling author of The Invisible Kingdom
“An astounding achievement. This is a memoir of emotional depth that reminds us that love, in its fullness, is as much a construction of jagged and flinty edges as an ideal of cloudless skies. In Splinters, Leslie Jamison is unstinting in her assessment of marriage gained and lost, of motherhood held close, and of loving oneself in the process, all conveyed with her unsparing and attentive eye.”—Esmé Weijun Wang, New York Times bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias
“I didn’t realize I needed someone to write this book. As it turns out, I needed Leslie Jamison to write this book. It moved me so much and hooked me so quickly. I absolutely consumed it, this book about hunger and aftermath, about pleasure and beauty and silencing and speaking up, and that new language you get to invent and learn at the same time with your child. Splinters is enormously satisfying—full of passages, images, and ideas that are, quite simply, some of my favorite things I’ve ever read.”—Mary-Louise Parker, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Mr. You, and Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony Award winner
“Christ Almighty this book is good. It’s a masterpiece. No one else I’ve read has captured motherhood—the painful overabundance of it, the extreme delight, the cascading fears—the way Leslie Jamison does in Splinters. No one else I’ve read has evoked so powerfully what it feels like to be pulled by too many competing tethers until you’re half a mother, half a writer, barely a wife, hardly a real person. The electric truth at the heart of this book is that, in this shattering and reassembling, you’re reorganized into a new kind of person, one attuned to abundance, open to chaos and surprise, gratified by the tiny pleasures of being alive. In Splinters, Jamison offers us an emotionally rich odyssey on the terrors and triumph of becoming whole.”—Heather Havrilesky, author of Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage and the “Ask Polly” advice column