Heating & Cooling

By Beth Ann Fennelly,

Book cover of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Book description

The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of non-fiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Heating & Cooling as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book combines compressed prose with nonfiction truth-telling but it isn’t linear or a complete story as much as a snapshot of Fennelly’s childhood, home life, and keen observations.

This book showed me that the quality of writing trumps the quantity of words. Short and sparse, when well written, can find a place on a bookshelf and shine.  

This book breaks the rigid lap lanes of how a poem is “supposed to look”, and I love that about it. The pieces range from 2 lines to several pages, and can look like flash-fiction or something you jotted on a sticky-note beside your bed.

Fennelly never takes herself too seriously, as in the poem titled, “Returning From Spring Break, Junior Year at Notre Dame” and the one-line poem below the title, “Swapped the rosary on my bedpost for Mardi Gras beads.” 

But it is not all kicks and giggles, as she confronts the reality of grief in the poem,…

As a native Mississippian, I was already aware of Fennelly’s works, but this collection is my absolute favorite of her wonderful collections. She uses micro pieces to tell some of the most interesting experiences of her life (so far). Even more, she blurs the line between what is poem and what is prose. She can take a single moment in time and make it into a lesson on life and the realities of the world. I highly recommend this book if you want to see how micro writing can be used for nonfiction.

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