What is the best memoir to read?

Last night – or maybe it was early this morning- I read the last sentence of Laurie Edwards’ essay collection All The Leavings, Published by Oregon State University Press in 2021. For the second time! So, if you ask me that question any time soon, All The Leavings will be my answer.

What is it like to live off the grid in the Oregon wilderness in a cabin where the bathtub is outdoors?

To be in the emergency room wondering if your daughter will survive?

To wake up in the middle of the night and realize that your beloved cat is outdoors, prey to a cougar who has been hanging around? you rush out, naked, into the woods calling for your cat until you hear the cougar’s footfalls very close. Suddenly you know what it is like to be prey.

What is it like when your daughter’s friend leaves by suicide? What’s it like to remember your own suicidal thoughts?

To leave, head out, say goodbye?

What do your friends leave in your heart when they die? Some of the answers might break your heart and I guarantee the last of the leavings in the Afterword will.

The thing is I want my heart to be broken. I want to go to places I evade in my own life. A fine editor, Tom Jenks, told me, while editing an early draft of Saving Miss Oliver’s, that I was evading places the story needed to go. “Where are those places?” I wanted to know.

“The places where it hurts the most,” he said. “And where life is so intense it’s scary.”

Laurie Easter goes like an arrow straight to those places.

All The Leavings is the work of a gifted and courageous writer