The Crying Book
Award-winning poet Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and must reckon with her own struggles with depression and the birth of her first child. How she faces her joy, grief, anxiety, impending motherhood, and conflicted truce with the world results in a moving meditation on the nature, rapture, and perils of crying―from the history of tear-catching gadgets (including the woman who designed a gun that shoots tears) to the science behind animal tears (including moths who drink them) to the fraught role of white women's tears in racist violence.Told in short, poetic snippets, The Crying Book delights and surprises, as well as rigorously examines how mental illness can affect a family across generations and how crying can express women’s agency―or lack of agency―in everyday life. Christle’s gift is the freshness of her voice and honesty of her approach, both of which create an intimacy with readers as she explores a human behavior broadly experienced but rarely questioned. A beautiful tribute to the power of crying, and to working through despair to tears of joy.

The Crying Book Details

TitleThe Crying Book
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 5th, 2019
PublisherCatapult
Rating
GenrePoetry, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Health, Mental Health

The Crying Book Review

  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve always been fascinated by the roles tears play in women’s lives. This book by the marvellous poet Heather Christel is a meditation on tears from those of children to those of mothers to those of philosophers. It touches on the shame of tears, the weaponizing of tears and so many other things. And there is a section that discusses the burial rites of dolls overseen by their young guardians that is both hilarious and deeply profound. This book will make you weepy. I loved it.
    more
  • Paris (parisperusing)
    January 1, 1970
    “Empathy can be a hole through which one falls into despair. Tears make the ground slippery. And then what? Satisfaction for the depth of one’s feelings? If I am not myself in danger, then my imagining myself into the place of another’s suffering unnecessarily incapacitates me, makes me unable to move some small part of my day in a direction that would make other lives more possible. And at this moment, my body still working to knit itself back together, the task is not to fall apart. The task “Empathy can be a hole through which one falls into despair. Tears make the ground slippery. And then what? Satisfaction for the depth of one’s feelings? If I am not myself in danger, then my imagining myself into the place of another’s suffering unnecessarily incapacitates me, makes me unable to move some small part of my day in a direction that would make other lives more possible. And at this moment, my body still working to knit itself back together, the task is not to fall apart. The task is to remain.”Heather Christle’s The Crying Book is not only a moving manifesto on tears but also on the infinite ways in which they can draw us closer or further away from humanity. But bleating beneath that teary-eyed sentiment — a friend’s suicide, a surge of maternal grief, and the sharp calmness after such calamities — is what kept me leafing well into the wee hours. I thoroughly enjoyed Christle’s inquest into the ways in which tears strip us naked of our defenses but also how they can be weaponized to spark acts of racist violence. (Such honesty is lacking these days, so to hear her acknowledge the scary phenomena was… refreshing.) Another aspect of Christle's book I appreciated was her approach to unpacking the notion of tears as a response to grief and suffering — from the Kent State massacre to the sailors who died in WWII to the fatal mourning experienced by elephants.As the book asks, one of my safest places to cry is in the car — precisely while driving to music during a storm. A few nights ago, after birthday festivities, I took the long way back home and Sufjan Stevens’ “Visions of Gideon” began to play. That song, which I first heard in Call Me by Your Name, still reminds me of all the hurt I experienced this summer, but once I came to, the moment dissolved as suddenly as it started. I decided to keep the record spinning the whole drive home. Even when I made it home, I reclined my seat and held on to that feeling for as long as I could. What Christle’s book does is give us all the permission we need to root ourselves in that emotion — be it in public or private spaces or in the safe embrace of the pouring rain. In other words, if you ever needed a reason to cry more often, reach for this beautiful book.Thanks again, Catapult friends, for sending me this lovely little read just in time before it releases.If you liked my review, feel free to follow me @parisperusing on Instagram.
    more
  • Catapult
    January 1, 1970
    Why do we cry? How do we cry? And what does it mean? A scientific, cultural, artistic examination by a young poet on the cusp of motherhood.
  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    I have many complicated feelings about this book so coming up with a rating took some deliberating. The biggest hang up I have is definitely my expectations going in. I love the idea of a book that explores crying. Crying is such a common practice for me (which, wow, doesn't make me sound very stable, but whatever I'm a watery bitch) that this book quickly became a highly anticipated release. But here's the thing: while in theory this is everything I wanted, the execution left me wanting. This I have many complicated feelings about this book so coming up with a rating took some deliberating. The biggest hang up I have is definitely my expectations going in. I love the idea of a book that explores crying. Crying is such a common practice for me (which, wow, doesn't make me sound very stable, but whatever I'm a watery bitch) that this book quickly became a highly anticipated release. But here's the thing: while in theory this is everything I wanted, the execution left me wanting. This felt like an exercise, a warm up, a series of unfinished outlines. I wanted full essays, historical and social discussion, some way to dissect this act. You can tell Christle is a poet and her style is definitely a high point, but it doesn't change the fact that this is more or less 160 pages of free-association. This is closer to lyric essays than analysis and for me, it suffered because of it. More than anything else, this felt like a person constantly being interrupted leaving messages to theirself, trying to write their way through life and grief. tw: talks of depression, suicide, post-partum depression, electroshock therapy
    more
  • Kelci Jacoby
    January 1, 1970
    I was not sure what to expect when I got this book in the mail, but all I can say is wow! I am someone who apologizes every single time I cry (even when my dad passed away) and this beautiful text validated all of the tears I cry, whether they’re from grief, happiness (some books are just too pure), frustration or anger. Thank you, Heather! You have written a winner. I won this book through a goodreads giveaway. Thank you to catapult (Elizabeth Ireland) and Heather Christle.
    more
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating and deeply moving. This fragmentary examination of tears expertly mixes poetic thought, science, and the author's own relationship to sadness, joy, and crying. Everyone who has ever cried should read this book.
  • Afton Montgomery
    January 1, 1970
    The Crying Book is intensely meta and layered in every direction. I love nothing more than the melding of the scientific and the literary, and with this exploration of tears, Heather Christle creates just that. In short bursts that are compulsively readable, she breaks down the endlessly frustrating and artificial wall between "the academic" and "the feminine," encouraging a discomfort with her emotionality (and then encouraging a critique of that discomfort). A new go-to recommendation for The Crying Book is intensely meta and layered in every direction. I love nothing more than the melding of the scientific and the literary, and with this exploration of tears, Heather Christle creates just that. In short bursts that are compulsively readable, she breaks down the endlessly frustrating and artificial wall between "the academic" and "the feminine," encouraging a discomfort with her emotionality (and then encouraging a critique of that discomfort). A new go-to recommendation for anyone questioning their own or another's relationship to sadness.
    more
  • Vincent Scarpa
    January 1, 1970
    "I say book. I mean poem. I mean the way the landscape suddenly reveals itself in layers, a vertical light shining its connective beam from one moment to the next. An entry into — an awareness of — a dimension always present. Not always seen. I think if I can keep myself alive to it, it will keep me from going under."Nothing less than a book which recreates the terms by which one might, somehow, live.
    more
  • Jules
    January 1, 1970
    The book is a lachrymatory for the author's tears. It's written in short bursts containing poignant memories, details and facts. Honestly, I loved this book so much I'm not sure what to say about it.
  • Deedi (DeediReads) Brown
    January 1, 1970
    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/.First, big thanks to the folks over at Catapult for sending me a finished copy of The Crying Book. Accurately described as “a dazzling meditation on tears” and “a symphonic work of nonfiction,” it is a masterpiece. “When I am not in despair I can barely even describe it. It is a trap door in my life. A bridge to nowhere. It is only a metaphor, a line. But one I send my love across.” Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see the world All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/.First, big thanks to the folks over at Catapult for sending me a finished copy of The Crying Book. Accurately described as “a dazzling meditation on tears” and “a symphonic work of nonfiction,” it is a masterpiece. “When I am not in despair I can barely even describe it. It is a trap door in my life. A bridge to nowhere. It is only a metaphor, a line. But one I send my love across.” Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see the world through a poet’s eyes? Heather Christle — who has published four poetry collections — gives us a glimpse. The Crying Book is part memoir, part physical exploration, part societal observation, and 100% emotion.The book began, she says, as the idea to list all the places she had cried. Then she started researching tears more, and she lost a friend to suicide, and her daughter was born, and then years passed and the result is this genius book. It’s written in short snippets of prose, all of them stitched together with care. The feelings and ideas and themes move forward and backward, circle around on themselves, come back to punch you in the gut when you’re least expecting them. It’s the kind of book where you just can’t help but pick up a pencil and start circling passages. I can already tell that I’m going to shove it into the hands of many friends and family members. “Friends keep sending me links to Rose-Lynn Fisher’s photography project ‘The Topography of Tears.’ It’s a series of photographs of dried tears taken through a microscope, the salt crystals forming little emotional terrains. The tears of grief blaze stark and mostly perpendicular, breaking here and there into clusters of curves. Onion tears are a dense and fernlike wallpaper. You could imagine it hanging in the house of a depthless decorator.” This book reaches into your gut and names the parts of yourself that you have been searching for. Doesn’t that sound like the best way to spend 171 pages?
    more
  • Desi
    January 1, 1970
    I was not expecting the format, but I really liked how she approached the weaving together of her own experiences with detours into research and experiences of crying. Christle is a poet and that shows in this volume. A few quotes that I had marked in the book:"The car is a private crying area. If you see a person crying near a car, you may need to offer help. If you see a person crying inside a car, you know they are already held." (<--crying in the car is definitely my jam)"Most crying I was not expecting the format, but I really liked how she approached the weaving together of her own experiences with detours into research and experiences of crying. Christle is a poet and that shows in this volume. A few quotes that I had marked in the book:"The car is a private crying area. If you see a person crying near a car, you may need to offer help. If you see a person crying inside a car, you know they are already held." (<--crying in the car is definitely my jam)"Most crying happens at night. People cry out of fatigue. But how horrible it is to say, "She's just tired!" Tired yes, certainly, but just? There is nothing just about it.""When I am in the fog of despair I fear I cry too much to be a good partner or parent or person, that something within me is utterly broken, that any reprieve--a day of joy! a poem!--is temporary and somehow false. But that is the fog doing its work, making everything large and grotesque. When the fog lifts I can point up, say Look, it is a cloud.""I understand she is crying because she is witnessing a difficult and maybe sorrowful event. I understand I am not crying because I am the event.""I say despair because it is a word that can live comfortably in a house without changing the building's purpose. It only changes the mood. Depression and suicidal ideation and anxiety all cast a stage or laboratory light. Even here, in this room. It shifts from paragraph to clinic."
    more
  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    When was the last time that you really cried, and what was the reason? Be vulnerable and transparent here with me, just like the actual act of crying. When were you so overcome with grief and moved so deeply, drowned in the oceanic water that stains our cheeks with agony, elation, or somber streaks that are proof of our tangibility. Like an old brick well russet and tanned from years in the sun suddenly overflowed and pooling from deep within our physical embodiment. When was the last time you When was the last time that you really cried, and what was the reason? Be vulnerable and transparent here with me, just like the actual act of crying. When were you so overcome with grief and moved so deeply, drowned in the oceanic water that stains our cheeks with agony, elation, or somber streaks that are proof of our tangibility. Like an old brick well russet and tanned from years in the sun suddenly overflowed and pooling from deep within our physical embodiment. When was the last time you truly felt moved to tears?.My last brush with uncontrollable crying was last year when my father passed away. I remember every trivial detail, it wasn’t the actual ending of life that broke me, he had been sick for many years and I had slowly watched him decline, each memory of my trips to see him dredges up the sensitivity of those night drives home listening to melancholy music and growing more and more numb. The final time he went to the hospital myself and my family knew it was it, we had been prepared, but as rehearsed as I could be, that phone call from my mother at 10pm on that Monday evening shattered every bone within my body. Alone in my bed the dam I had been building around my heart didn’t just break, it was absolutely blown apart, ripped in every direction and the tears seemed like they were a faucet whose off knob was dislodged from its hinges, and the release of all those feelings was cathartic..Heather Christle brought all these feelings rushing back with her meditative non fiction book simply called “ the crying book” she loses a friend to suicide and decided to further explore the explanation behind tears and why we cry. From facts, history, and memories of her own she shows us such a vulnerability within these short vignettes on each page. This book begs to be read and reflected on upon closing the last page. It clearly brought back vivid memories for myself, and I feel it might for anyone else who reads Christle’s words. Smart, poetic, and insightful, I learned so much from these pages, and saw so much of myself stained within the ink, one of those books you keep on your nightstand permanently to revisit over and over.
    more
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    When, where, why do we cry? How is it that some are predisposed to cry little and others to weep endlessly? Why does it so often feel shameful? When does it relieve us, does it trap us in depression? Peaceful and powerful, The Crying Book is a poetic examination of the art of weeping. Poet Heather Christle meditates on tears, grief, in a graceful mourning song held together by personal experiences, scientific insight, and her most beloved—poetry. In the face of great loss, Christle’s account is When, where, why do we cry? How is it that some are predisposed to cry little and others to weep endlessly? Why does it so often feel shameful? When does it relieve us, does it trap us in depression? Peaceful and powerful, The Crying Book is a poetic examination of the art of weeping. Poet Heather Christle meditates on tears, grief, in a graceful mourning song held together by personal experiences, scientific insight, and her most beloved—poetry. In the face of great loss, Christle’s account is crystalline and mystical, a necessary embrace for the bereaved, and validating manifesto to the tearful.
    more
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those remarkable books that you can tell a great amount of effort went into, yet it feels effortless.
  • Weston
    January 1, 1970
    A revelation. Read itAnd weep.
  • Maddie C.
    January 1, 1970
    [3.5]
  • Sabrine
    January 1, 1970
    Plusieurs pépites dans ce petit livre.Most crying happens at night. People cry out of fatigue. But how horrible it is to hear someone say, “She’s just tired!” Tired, yes, certainly, but just? There is nothing just about it.***Tears are a sign of powerlessness, a “woman’s weapon.” It has been a very long war.Yi-Fei Chen, a design student in the Netherlands, literalized the metaphor after a demanding professor made her cry. She constructed a brass gun that collects, freezes, and shoots tears: tiny Plusieurs pépites dans ce petit livre.Most crying happens at night. People cry out of fatigue. But how horrible it is to hear someone say, “She’s just tired!” Tired, yes, certainly, but just? There is nothing just about it.***Tears are a sign of powerlessness, a “woman’s weapon.” It has been a very long war.Yi-Fei Chen, a design student in the Netherlands, literalized the metaphor after a demanding professor made her cry. She constructed a brass gun that collects, freezes, and shoots tears: tiny icy bullets. Chen presented the object at her graduation, where she accepted an invitation to take aim at the head of her department.
    more
  • Megan Bell
    January 1, 1970
    The Crying Book is a lyrical, literary, and marauding meditation on a human act with a long history of mystery and misunderstanding. Poet Heather Christle began researching and writing this sui generis social science memoir at a time when tears were most copious for her, while both grieving the suicide of a close friend and anxiously preparing for the birth of her daughter. What emerges from Christle’s exploration of the act of crying is both intimate and intellectual, particular and profound, The Crying Book is a lyrical, literary, and marauding meditation on a human act with a long history of mystery and misunderstanding. Poet Heather Christle began researching and writing this sui generis social science memoir at a time when tears were most copious for her, while both grieving the suicide of a close friend and anxiously preparing for the birth of her daughter. What emerges from Christle’s exploration of the act of crying is both intimate and intellectual, particular and profound, as she dives into the significance of tears personally, scientifically, and historically.
    more
  • Meg
    January 1, 1970
    i saw Heather Christle do a reading at my grad program 5-6 years ago and she mentioned she was writing a book on crying and ever since then i've periodically googled "heather christle crying book" because i wanted to read it and then FINALLY IT WAS MINE her writing is wonderful and this book is excellent 10/10 would cry again <3 <3
    more
  • Kaitlyn Joy
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a non-fiction book about crying. It is filled with facts about crying, famous writings about crying, and famous or moving stories of grief. Interspersed between the research-esqe nature of this book is a young depressed mother trying to understand her depression. This book wasn't really my cup of tea, it feels experimental and I'm not sure I enjoyed it. But it was well written and raw and I think if you're up for some experimental style this would be a good one to add to your list.
    more
  • Kate Grace
    January 1, 1970
    I read Heather Christle’s striking and cathartic The Crying Book, for the first time, in just one day. This book is not easy to categorize in terms of genre; the text enmeshes poetry and memoir, research review and literary analysis. But I LOVE how the complexity in author’s craft and structure speaks to the complexity in subject matter: Why do we cry? This is one of those books I know I’ll return to, reread. Thank you to Heather Christle, Catapult, and Goodreads Giveaways for my copy of The I read Heather Christle’s striking and cathartic The Crying Book, for the first time, in just one day. This book is not easy to categorize in terms of genre; the text enmeshes poetry and memoir, research review and literary analysis. But I LOVE how the complexity in author’s craft and structure speaks to the complexity in subject matter: Why do we cry? This is one of those books I know I’ll return to, reread. Thank you to Heather Christle, Catapult, and Goodreads Giveaways for my copy of The Crying Book.
    more
  • Angie Sanchez
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't know it was possible to write a books strictly on crying, but here ya have it. And it is well done for what it is. I appreciate her outlook and the way she strips herself to her core to bare all.
  • David C Ward
    January 1, 1970
    See my forthcoming review in PNReview
Write a review