Love and Other Ways of Dying

Love and Other Ways of Dying


Book - 2015
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In this moving, lyrical, and ultimately uplifting collection of essays, Michael Paterniti turns a keen eye on the full range of human experience, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of everyday people.
Publisher: New York : Dial Press, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780385337021
Branch Call Number: Literature 814.6 Pat
Alternative Title: Essays


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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

The essays in this collection are selected from among the best Paterniti's written over his long career. They span decades and many walks of life. From childhood baseball heroes to a Ukrainian giant, from the busy kitchen of the most imaginative restaurant in the world to the fields of a downed airliner, Paterniti clears a path around the world and makes it sound easy.

Dec 17, 2015

Michael Paterniti writes the kind of journalistic pieces and personal essays that have that slow, delicious build I relish. As with all great long-form writing, the experience depends on you being a good reader. In other words, you have to be willing to go the distance and stick around even when the story wanders, even when you the story seems to digress and lose its way, or when the author seems to break journalistic boundaries.

Love and Other Ways of Dying is a collection that showcases Paterniti’s best work published in Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ. Collections should always be judged by the range demonstrated in the selected pieces and this collection doesn’t disappoint.

In the first story, “The Long Fall of Flight One-Eleven Heavy,” Paterniti writes about the disaster that met New York-bound Swissair Flight 111 as it went down off the coast of Nova Scotia. The reporting is cinematic. Paterniti tells the story from different perspectives: the coroner called to the scene, a TV reporter, the father of one of the passengers. The facts that are thrown to us are visceral. At one point, Paterniti writes how the impact of a plane crash “degloves” the human body, stripping flesh from bone and scattering organs on the water. It is the kind of showstopping story that you read and never shake long after you’ve turned the page. You read what a crash of that magnitude does to the human body and it becomes a barometer for the emotional devastation that follows.

We meet a widow torn asunder by the grief, who talks about reassembling her husband’s hand as she receives a finger or thumb from crash investigators. Families get belongings: clothing and toys picked up from the water. A husband and wife make promises to “stop their imaginations at that place where their daughter had boarded the plane, their minds would not wander past that particular rope.” Paterniti hops from one point of view to another, giving us backstories, giving us that stripped, innocent moment before the catastrophic moment: “Like lovers who haven’t yet met or one-day neighbors living now in different countries, tracing their route to one another, each of them moved toward the others without knowing it. … Do you remember the last time you felt the wind? Or touched your lips to the head of a child? Can you remember the words she said as she last went, a ticket in hand?”

Paterniti walks the line of literary nonfiction and elevated journalism.


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