Kissing the World Goodbye by Jennifer Clark
Clark’s latest book, Kissing the World Goodbye, is a memoir infused with recipes that invites the reader to crouch down and notice the small things in life we too easily overlook. Everything in this world, no matter how small, is worthy of consideration for Clark, from isopods barreling through Tasmanian soil to the origins of childhood nicknames. Big things matter, too, like siblionic love, a term she coins in an attempt to describe the indescribable connections between siblings. Within this funny, poignant, and often tasty memoir, Clark weaves in serious issues such as the perpetual closeness of various forms of loss, and family members, particularly her sister’s, easily moving on in the face of matters that weigh Clark down. And much weighs her down: naming fish, Ernest Borgnine’s eyebrows, cell phones, instapots, and more.
Bottom line: this lyrical journey reminds us life is messy, funny, fragile, and fleeting. For even as we kiss the world hello, we kiss it goodbye.
Genre: Creative Nonfiction
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Praise for Jennifer Clark
Jennifer Clark’s memoir takes us right to the heart of the American family dramedy: the table, where the Zucchini Helper waits alongside Chicken Cordon Bleu—en casserole, of course, because this is Michigan. Clark braids family tales with recipes that you will want to try, if you grew up in the vast imaginary land sometimes called the Midwest. With an ironic edge and mordant wit that never compromises a deep and open heart, Clark invites us into a family that is nothing like yours and also a lot like yours, especially if you’ve ever felt like its only sane member, or the alien in the tribe, or the clan’s designated chronicler. Clark offers up her beloveds in all their exasperating, brilliant, incomparable uniqueness. When you close Kissing the World Goodbye, you will already be missing her scientist father, in his gentle, wise intimacy with tiny invertebrate creatures; her mother, who always has something up her sleeve and who vanquishes incompetent bankers; her brother, epidemiologist and inspirational chef; and above all her sister, the exasperating and relentlessly loving Holly, queen of Costco and maker of killer strawberry-jalapeño margaritas. Jennifer Clark, who has worked mostly in poetry, here mines the secret of memoir: that in the ragged particulars of our lives lies the vast human story, full of yearning, grief, loyalty, intimacy, laughter, and appetite.
Gail Griffin, author of Grief’s Country: A Memoir in Pieces, a 2021 Michigan Notable Book