Late Migrations: Book summary and reviews of Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

Late Migrations

A Natural History of Love and Loss

by Margaret Renkl

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl X
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2019
    248 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

From New York Times opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family - and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents―her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father―and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child's transition to caregiver.

And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds―the natural one and our own―"the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love's own twin."

Gorgeously illustrated by the author's brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Renkl instructs that even amid life's most devastating moments, there are reasons for hope and celebration. Readers will savor each page and the many gems of wisdom they contain." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Compelling, rich, satisfying...The short, potent essays of Late Migrations are objects as worthy of marvel and study as the birds and other creatures they observe." - Foreword Reviews (starred review)

"Lyrical reflections on the relentless cycle of birth and death...A series of redolent snapshots and memories that seem to halt time." - Kirkus Reviews

"[Late Migrations] is shot through with deep wonder and a profound sense of loss. It is a fine feat, this book. Renkl intimately knows that 'this life thrives on death' and chooses to sing the glory of being alive all the same." - Booklist

"A captivating, beautifully written story of growing up, love, loss, living, and a close extended family by a talented nature writer and memoirist that will appeal to those who enjoy introspective memoirs and the natural world close to home." - Library Journal

"[A] stunning collection of essays merging the natural landscapes of Alabama and Tennessee with generations of family history, grief and renewal. Renkl's voice sounds very close to the reader's ear: intimate, confiding, candid and alert." - Shelf Awareness

"Beautifully written, masterfully structured, and brimming with insight into the natural world, Late Migrations can claim its place alongside Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and A Death in the Family. It has the makings of an American classic."―Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth

"A compact glory, crosscutting between consummate family memoir and keenly observed backyard natural history. Renkl's deft juxtapositions close up the gap between humans and nonhumans and revive our lost kinship with other living things." - Richard Powers, author of The Overstory

"A close and vigilant witness to loss and gain, Renkl wrenches meaning from the intimate moments that define us. Her work is a chronicle of being. And a challenge to cynicism. Late Migrations is flat-out brilliant and it has arrived right on time."―John T. Edge, author of The Potlikker Papers

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Author Information

Margaret Renkl

Margaret Renkl is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, where her essays appear weekly. Her work has also appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Proximity, and River Teeth, among others. She serves as editor of Chapter 16, the daily literary publication of Humanities Tennessee, and is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina. She lives in Nashville.

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