Constellations: Reflections from Life

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020 - Human body - 256 pages

For fans of Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison, Sinéad Gleeson's essays chronicle--in crystalline, tender, powerful prose--life in a body as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood, and love of all kinds.

I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles.

We treat the body as an afterthought, until it no longer can be. Until the pain or the pleasure is too great. Sinéad Gleeson's life has been marked by terrible illness, including leukemia and debilitating arthritis. As a child, she bathed in the springs of Lourdes, ever hopeful that her body would cooperate, ever looking forward to the day when she could take her body for granted. But just as she turns inward to explore her own pain, and then the marvel of recovery, and then the arrival of her greatest joys--falling in love, becoming a mother--she turns her gaze outward. She delves into history, art, literature, and music, plotting the intimate experience of life in a women's body across a wide-ranging map. From Nick Cave to Taylor Swift, Botticelli to Frida Kahlo, Louisa May Alcott to Lucy Grealy, Constellations is an investigation into the different ways of seeing, both uniquely personal and universal in its resonances.

In the tradition of some of our finest life writers, Gleeson explores--in her own spirited, generous voice--the fierceness of being alive. She has written "a book [that] every woman should read" (Eimear McBride).

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Sinéad Gleeson’s memoir Constellations explores the relationship between our bodies and our identity. In a series of linked essays, she writes powerfully about her own experiences and what they tell ... Read full review

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About the author (2020)

SINÉAD GLEESON is a writer, editor and freelance broadcaster. She has been published in Granta, among many other places, and is the editor of three award-winning short story anthologies, including The Long Gaze Back: an Anthology of Irish Women Writers. Previously, she presented The Book Show on RTÉ Radio One in Ireland.

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