Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
Reviewed by Kristin
If Beth Ann Fennelly has one gift, it is the ability to winnow down her thoughts to include only what is essential. It is difficult to avoid being wordy; I could make several examples of that in this review alone. I’ll do my best to follow her lead.
From a single sentence to a few pages, Fennelly shows her readers snippets of life. Her observations are sometimes comical, sometimes wry, and sometimes heartbreaking. She talks about grief in a way that anyone who has lost someone would understand, as a tangible item of clothing weighting her down. With just a few words, the depths of feelings flood my mind.
Fennelly is not all sadness, though. Her sly wit shines through as she discusses a neighbor’s chicken who visited them regularly, and who chose to lay a beautiful, delicious egg on her side of the fence. Where else might you find an escaped-from-strictly-organic-feed-and-the-Taj-Majal-of-a-coop rogue chicken renamed Beyoncé?
When some dinner guests insisted that Fennelly and her husband accept a $50 bill in their younger days, they placed the money in a book for a future splurge, and then promptly forgot which book. After hiding other things in books and perhaps loaning them to any number of friends over the years, she still wonders where these items ended up, or if she will find them the next time she opens a volume.
The tenderness and mundaneness of married life is threaded throughout the collection, along with child rearing, friendship, and coming of age stories. Anyone who has lived a life, (and haven’t we all, by our virtue of breathing and walking and reading these words?) will likely identify with something within this small volume.