Vessels: A Memoir of What Wasn't

Author(s): Daniel Raeburn

Fiction - Contemporary

An unforgettable portrait of a marriage tested to its limits. When Dan, a writer with a passion for underground comics, and his wife Bekah, a potter dedicated to traditional Japanese ceramics, met through a mutual friend, they swiftly fell in love. "Of all the women I've ever met," Dan told a friend, "she's the first one who felt like family." But at Christmas, as they prepared for the birth of their first child, tragedy struck. Based on Daniel Raeburn's acclaimed New Yorker essay, Vessels: A Memoir of What Wasn't is the story of how the couple clashed and clung to each other through a series of unsuccessful pregnancies before finally, joyfully, becoming parents. In prose as handsomely unadorned as his wife's pottery, Raeburn recounts a marriage cemented by the same events that nearly broke it. Vessels is an unflinching, enormously moving account of intimacy, endurance and love.


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Daniel Raeburn gets right down to the essentials: life, death, love, loss. There's not a spare syllable here, and the telegraphic style has the odd effect of amplifying these profound questions, allowing them to resonate fully. Vessels is a beautiful book about the sheer, mysterious contingency of anyone being born at all. -- Alison Bechdel, author of Are You My Mother? A brilliant and dazzling story about love, marriage and family. In a prose so transparent that you feel as if it's your own experience, Daniel Raeburn has written a beautiful book about loss and redemption -- Susan Cheever Vessels conveys the complicated loves of marriage and parenting, of finding honest and enduring meaning in a time when one is hard-pressed to do so -- Antonya Nelson Spare and elegant and smart and propulsive, but above all alive with the close breath of the realest intimacy -- Claire Dederer [Vessels] is not only a poignant expression of how two young people matured as they created a family. It is also a celebration of the way that birth - even if that birth ends in sudden death - brings new life to parents. An eloquently candid memoir. Kirkus This is one of the wisest, saddest, most beautiful books about love that I've ever read. -- Tom Bissell Affecting and often wrenching... Raeburn writes palpably of loss and anguish, but also shows how love, hope and resilience triumph over despair. Publishers Weekly An eloquently candid memoir... The narrative is not only a poignant expression of how two young people matured as they created a family. It is also a celebration of the way that birth-even if that birth ends in sudden death-brings new life to parents. Kirkus Reviews More than offering a simple tale about grief and the struggles of parenthood, Raeburn speaks to the emotional influence of those we try to bring into the world and the lives we are responsible for. Booklist

Daniel Raeburn's writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Tin House, and he is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at the University of Chicago.

General Fields

  • : 9781472151766
  • : Little, Brown Book Group
  • : Corsair
  • : March 2017
  • : 198mm X 131mm X 13mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 618.392092
  • : 192
  • : Daniel Raeburn
  • : Paperback
  • : 1