Heather Christle is extremely good at gently reminding us of things we know but don't verbalize often enough. Even the observation that crying is the first thing we ever do helps to reframe an activity that most of us don't actively enjoy. I appreciate this book because it treats crying with nuance: not simply glorifying it as cathartic, or focusing on the discomfort in crying. Unsurprisingly, this book is often sad, but also scientific, oddly funny, and sweet.— From Alyson
“To be a writer is to be both in constant awe and in constant envy of other writers. Heather Christle is no exception. She is a writer to whom a world of poets look for playful imagery and careful affect. The Crying Book is not billed as poetry, but it’s not prose—it’s something very deeply embedded between genres. There are no line breaks, but there is lyricism and a poetic philosophy of the intimate relationship between things: tears, grief, war, motherhood, friendship, partnership, science, history. The literary world has already likened it to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, but Christle’s work seems to me more delicate, as though each turn of a tear-soaked page allows readers the permission, as Christle puts it, to be held. And to be held by a book is, I think, exactly what a reader craves.”
— Lauren Korn, Fact & Fiction Downtown, Missoula, MT
This bestselling "lyrical, moving book: part essay, part memoir, part surprising cultural study" is an examination of why we cry, how we cry, and what it means to cry from a woman on the cusp of motherhood confronting her own depression (The New York Times Book Review).
Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and now must reckon with her own depression and the birth of her first child. As she faces her grief and impending parenthood, she decides to research the act of crying: what it is and why people do it, even if they rarely talk about it. Along the way, she discovers an artist who designed a frozen-tear-shooting gun and a moth that feeds on the tears of other animals. She researches tear-collecting devices (lachrymatories) and explores the role white women's tears play in racist violence.
Honest, intelligent, rapturous, and surprising, Christle's investigations look through a mosaic of science, history, and her own lived experience to find new ways of understanding life, loss, and mental illness. The Crying Book is a deeply personal tribute to the fascinating strangeness of tears and the unexpected resilience of joy.