Late Migrations
An Indie Next Selection for July 2019An Indies Introduce Selection for Summer/Fall 2019From 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.

Late Migrations Details

TitleLate Migrations
Author
ReleaseJul 9th, 2019
PublisherMilkweed Editions
ISBN-139781571313782
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Autobiography, Memoir, Environment, Nature, Biography, Science

Late Migrations Review

  • Diane Barnes
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book of very short essays. Easy to read in short snatches of time, the author touches on grief, parental love (from both sides), nature, and beauty. Her prose is beautiful as well. I read this on my Kindle Paperwhite, but the illustrations by her brother were fantastic, so I may have to check out a book copy just to see those better.
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    I read the entirety of this book with a lump in my throat that would neither subside or crawl out my mouth into the cry I wanted it to be. What a fantastic book.
  • Paul Ataua
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful! 112 short and beautifully written ‘essays’ about nature, family, and life that are just captivating. I read it in one workday, forgoing my morning swim, blowing off my lunch, and finally having my afternoon break in the place that has the suckiest coffee and the least customers so I wouldn’t be disturbed while finishing it. It wasn’t all positive, however. It ended too soon, much too soon.
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  • rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved everything about this book.The way that Renkl describes grief, gives softness to the world, draws parallels between the two, and has room to squeeze in both classic and contemporary references made me an instant fan. She accomplished these feats within the first dozen pages, propelling me forward into the duality of her personal lore and the familiarity of earth's natural story. I enjoyed the southern perspective of nature. I enjoyed the southern capture of her relatives exper I absolutely loved everything about this book.The way that Renkl describes grief, gives softness to the world, draws parallels between the two, and has room to squeeze in both classic and contemporary references made me an instant fan. She accomplished these feats within the first dozen pages, propelling me forward into the duality of her personal lore and the familiarity of earth's natural story. I enjoyed the southern perspective of nature. I enjoyed the southern capture of her relatives experiences. I enjoyed the parts of her life that she documented with such openness, though no descriptions were uncomfortable seeming. One gets the feeling that she is truly present in the skins of life that are perpetually shed. That's why this book has a deeply personal feeling, but leaves little to be misunderstood.I hope Renkl has more in store for us.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    This book is part memoir, part essay, part poetry, part nature writing, and wholly beautiful. Not only did I connect with Renkl's writing because I too
  • Catie
    January 1, 1970
    "What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.""In the stir of too much motion:Hold still.Be quiet.Listen.""The cycle of life might as well be called the cycle of death: everything that lives will die, and everything that dies will be eaten."
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  • Kristen Curtis
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful
  • Caleb Masters
    January 1, 1970
    Late Migrations is a gorgeous, somber treasure of a book. Death and its many forms permeate Margaret Renkl’s meditative work; from the death of her father to the death of a small bird in the road, grief is a constant companion throughout these pages. But the sorrow never becomes overwhelming; in fact, each passage takes on a unique, bittersweet wisdom that can only be gained by experiencing loss. Renkl’s part memoir, part nature writing, and part essay collection is a such a unique reading exper Late Migrations is a gorgeous, somber treasure of a book. Death and its many forms permeate Margaret Renkl’s meditative work; from the death of her father to the death of a small bird in the road, grief is a constant companion throughout these pages. But the sorrow never becomes overwhelming; in fact, each passage takes on a unique, bittersweet wisdom that can only be gained by experiencing loss. Renkl’s part memoir, part nature writing, and part essay collection is a such a unique reading experience and one I will remember and recommend for many years to come.
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  • Paperback Paris
    January 1, 1970
    —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor, Leah Rodriguez. Read more.Margaret Renkl's debut,  Late Migrations: A  Natural History of Love and Loss , contains multitudes for such a slender volume. Structured as a series of vignettes through which Renkl juxtaposes her family history with observations of the natural world, this timely collection presents the universe in miniature—the violent, painful, heartbreaking realities of daily life that, when accepted for what they are, yield —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor, Leah Rodriguez. Read more.Margaret Renkl's debut,  Late Migrations: A  Natural History of Love and Loss , contains multitudes for such a slender volume. Structured as a series of vignettes through which Renkl juxtaposes her family history with observations of the natural world, this timely collection presents the universe in miniature—the violent, painful, heartbreaking realities of daily life that, when accepted for what they are, yield hope.Renkl writes with the well-trained eye of a seasoned naturalist despite her not being one. Her thorough attention to detail—her ability to name things in the natural world for what they are—imbues each piece with an authoritative grist and a tapestry-like quality, aided by Renkl's assured poetic flair. Her encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world, particularly her knowledge of birds and flora, stems from the adventurous days of an uninhibited childhood during which time was spent running barefoot in the red clay of southern Alabama. Such is her attachment that a twenty-something Renkl could not complete her graduate course in Philadelphia, where she came to understand the loss of nature was like the loss of home.In the present, Renkl makes a small haven for wildlife out of her backyard in Tennessee, where she observes the "red in beak and claw" behavior of territorial passerine birds and the steady predation of rat snakes and raptors alike. "This life thrives on death," she writes, and with that, the difficulty in knowing when to provide aid and when to leave things as they are. Through these observations, Renkl tells stories of her family, her universe—an endless source of deep love, support, and humor. Their struggles, presented in tandem with scenes from the natural world and the insight Renkl draws from them, weave together to form a narrative that discourages cynicism and despair. And while it might take the reader some time to gain purchase in the short, seemingly desultory passages at the book's beginning, the overall effect is something deeply moving.When I began Late Migrations, I feared what conclusions Renkl would present concerning the ever-growing existential threat to our natural world. After all—the longstanding hope of our species, all our talk of eternity—rests on the fact that life will continue beyond our oblivion until the sun reaches the end of its life cycle and the entire galaxy is destroyed. How do we manage the weight of this knowledge? And with it—how do we possibly maintain hope? Renkl touches on the effects of climate change lightly, going into some detail about the ways in which the migrations of certain birds are altered by changes in climate patters and the forced encroachment of non-native species into areas where their presence threatens native wildlife. I was saddened by these accounts, but I was also unexpectedly comforted by Renkl's optimism about the resiliency of these living things.  She does not place blame, or attempt to shame anyone, the implication being that, while the situation is dire, there is always the chance for life to regain its balance with death. Ultimately, the cycle continues as we expect it to. Every living thing adapts to tragedy.On her imagining of what an early human would have thought upon encountering the "flare of light on moving water," she writes:The first instant must have felt the way waking into darkness feels--not knowing at first if your eyes are open or closed.In that instant, the river is not a life-giving source of water and fish and passage. In that instant, it is not the roiling fury that can swallow whole any land-walking, air-breathing creature. It is only itself, unlike any other thing. It was here long before we were here, and it will be here after we are gone. It will erase all trace of us--without malice, without even recognition. And when we are gone to ground and all our structures have crumbled back to dust, the river will become again just the place where light and water and sky find each other among the trees.The beauty of Renkl's writing in Late Migrations is staggering—on a par with other naturalist writers such as Annie Dillard and Peter Matthiessen. The honey-tongued lilt of southern dialogue and the verse-like quality of her prose show a writer with full command of her craft, effectively transforming a slim, unassuming collection of essays into a magnificent microcosm of the multitudinous universe.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    https://booksnooks.wordpress.com/2019...Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major was mentioned in an essay about a dying English teacher and so I pulled it up on YouTube and listened as I read, impressed by the teacher’s passion and dedication. I finished the book at the very moment Concerto No. 2 came to a close- a perfectly formulated ending to a book so beautiful that I debated not writing about it. There is absolutely nothing I can say, nothing you can read on this blog, that can properly provi https://booksnooks.wordpress.com/2019...Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major was mentioned in an essay about a dying English teacher and so I pulled it up on YouTube and listened as I read, impressed by the teacher’s passion and dedication. I finished the book at the very moment Concerto No. 2 came to a close- a perfectly formulated ending to a book so beautiful that I debated not writing about it. There is absolutely nothing I can say, nothing you can read on this blog, that can properly provide evidence to support the fact that this book is absolute perfection.I have always believed that experiencing loss causes one to fully embrace life. Those around you who seem to have the most joy, have likely encountered deep pain. That is what makes you go big or go home, take risks, live fully, love deeply, and breathe it all in. It may also be what frequently gets me labeled “old soul”. Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl was written by a woman who approaches life from an incredible perspective that takes into account the fullness of life."The cycle of life might as well be called the cycle of death…"The chapters alternate between family stories and retreats into nature, with deep connection between the two. If you were touched by Mary Oliver’s Upstream, I think you’ll find value in this one too!
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  • Daniel Mccoy
    January 1, 1970
    Renkl says she had wanted to be a poet. She took a different turn and writes essays instead. I just want to say that the jewel-like pieces of writing gathered in this book do for me exactly what poetry should do.As you read through the book, these short pieces assemble into a collage of something far larger than any one of them. Different readers will likely assemble the collage slightly differently depending on what elements resonate most strongly with them out of these snippets about family, n Renkl says she had wanted to be a poet. She took a different turn and writes essays instead. I just want to say that the jewel-like pieces of writing gathered in this book do for me exactly what poetry should do.As you read through the book, these short pieces assemble into a collage of something far larger than any one of them. Different readers will likely assemble the collage slightly differently depending on what elements resonate most strongly with them out of these snippets about family, nature, place, love, and loss.I, frankly, have never had a book bring so many tears to my eyes. The tears are sometimes for the sadness, but more often it’s just the sheer beauty of it.I’m going to read this again, maybe out loud.
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  • Amie Whittemore
    January 1, 1970
    Renkl does a fine job of using short, interconnected essays to craft longer, (somewhat) more complex, and certainly honest observations about life and love and death, the ways in which we share this world with family and flowers, with birds and snakes. The collection risks sentimentality and sweetness, but don't we need sentiment, sweetness, and sincerity in these fraught times? At times I wanted more of certain narrative strains, but I like to think of this collection as not as related fragment Renkl does a fine job of using short, interconnected essays to craft longer, (somewhat) more complex, and certainly honest observations about life and love and death, the ways in which we share this world with family and flowers, with birds and snakes. The collection risks sentimentality and sweetness, but don't we need sentiment, sweetness, and sincerity in these fraught times? At times I wanted more of certain narrative strains, but I like to think of this collection as not as related fragments but as a deftly wrought quilt--each patch speaks to a different one, the various incompletenesses forming a new whole. I also ADORED her brother's artwork, which serves as punctuation throughout the book. Each piece is simply exquisite (as you can see from the gorgeous cover art).
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  • Naomi Krokowski
    January 1, 1970
    I’d give this book 6 stars if I could! So much resonated: caring for small children and aging/ill parents simultaneously, seeing glimpses of both heaven and hell in the stunning natural world, longing to reconcile the blessings and the struggles.Renkl’s gorgeous writing and her brother’s beautiful illustrations are amazing.I have incredible bookreavement. I want more of Renkl’s writing! I’m happy to pay my NYT subscription just to continue reading her essays there. I pray she turns more of them I’d give this book 6 stars if I could! So much resonated: caring for small children and aging/ill parents simultaneously, seeing glimpses of both heaven and hell in the stunning natural world, longing to reconcile the blessings and the struggles.Renkl’s gorgeous writing and her brother’s beautiful illustrations are amazing.I have incredible bookreavement. I want more of Renkl’s writing! I’m happy to pay my NYT subscription just to continue reading her essays there. I pray she turns more of them into another book.
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  • Lorrie
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a well crafted book. Margaret Renkl alternates small sections of memoir with poetic observations of the natural world outside her front and back doors. Many of her observations are about grief and loss, but all of it ties together in a universal manner that is often subtle, suprising, and touches the heart. The editing is especially impressive--everything in this small and spare memoir feels important and linked.
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  • Margie Couch
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, poignant, interesting reflections on family and nature. Loved the lyrical writing and observations of the authors backyard animal sightings and bird life. Highly recommend this beautiful book.
  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely, fractured, nature and family intermingled. Not entirely fluid transition from their previous form as independent essays.
  • Mary Dansak
    January 1, 1970
    Just read it. Gorgeous.
  • Joanna
    January 1, 1970
    Gorgeous essays that I would describe as a mix of meditation and poetry.
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Profoundly, staggeringly beautiful.
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