Mortality, With Friends is a collection of lyrical essays from Fleda Brown, a writer and caretaker, of her father and sometimes her husband, who lives with the nagging uneasiness that her cancer could return. Memoir in feel, the book muses on the nature of art, of sculpture, of the loss of bees and trees, the end of marriages, and among other things, the loss of hearing and of life itself.
Containing twenty-two essays, Mortality, With Friends
follows the cascade of loss with the author's imminent joy in opening a path to track her own growing awareness and wisdom. In Donna, Brown examines a childhood friendship and questions the roles we need to play in each other's lives to shape who we might become. In Native Bees, Brown expertly weaves together the threads of a difficult family tradition intended to incite happiness with the harsh reality of current events. In Fingernails, Toenails, she marvels at the attention and suffering that accompanies caring for our aging bodies. In Mortality, with Friends, Brown dives into the practical and stupefying response to her own cancer and survival. In 2019: Becoming Mrs. Ramsay, she remembers the ghosts of her family and the strident image of herself, positioned in front of her Northern Michigan cottage.
Comparable to Lia Purpura's essays in their density and poetics, Brown's intent is to look closely, to stay with the moment and the image. Readers with a fondness for memoir and appreciation for art will be dazzled by the beauty of this collection.