Resisting Elegy: Essays on Grief and Recovery
Academy Chicago Publishers
Publication date: May 2012
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
You save: $2.00 (20%)
In this thoughtful collection of narratives, author Joel Peckham explores the transformative power of emotional and physical pain from the vantage point of a husband and parent who lost his wife and a child in an accident that left him in chronic distress. Along the way, he fills a need for a brutally honest literary examination of not only grief and suffering, but also of recovery. On February 7, 2004, while traveling from Aqaba to Amman in Jordan, Joel, his two sons, his mother-in-law, and his wife-National Poetry Series award-winner and IranianAmerican writer, Susan Atefat Peckham-were in a car crash. Susan and their oldest son, Cyrus, were killed, while Joel was left temporarily crippled and suffering from intense neuropathy. The narratives in Resisting Elegy are the result of this experience and its aftermath. To face the truth of the tragedy and the truth of the recovery process, Joel approaches guilt, grief, anxiety, physical and emotional therapy, chronic pain, single-parenting, marriage, writing, and cultural conflict- somewhat like essays-that is, not merely in an attempt to express the experience but to explore, examine, and explain it. This is not a memoir; it is a study of the human mind in trauma. The chapters in the book appear chronologically, not in the order of the events they describe but by the time and occasion in which they were written. In this way, the book reveals the non-linear, disjunctive progress of the human mind as it navigates through the wreckage of the past while trying to clear a way forward. There are no heroes in these pages, and the author has consciously resisted the mythmaking impulse-that desire to honor the dead and to give tragedy purpose by telling a sad but inspirational story. Instead, the book does a great deal to counter our assumptions about grief and suffering- assumptions that do damage both to those in pain and those who try to comfort them.