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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374106874128 Pages
One of The A.V. Club's 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2019
A stark, elegiac account of unexpected pleasures and the progress of seasons
Fifteen years ago, Kathryn Scanlan found a stranger’s five-year diary at an estate auction in a small town in Illinois. The owner of the diary was eighty-six years old when she began recording the details of her life in the small book, a gift from her daughter and son-in-law. The diary was falling apart—water-stained and illegible in places—but magnetic to Scanlan nonetheless.
After reading and rereading the diary, studying and dissecting it, for the next fifteen years she played with the sentences that caught her attention, cutting, editing, arranging, and rearranging them into the composition that became Aug 9—Fog (she chose the title from a note that was tucked into the diary). “Sure grand out,” the diarist writes. “That puzzle a humdinger,” she says, followed by, “A letter from Lloyd saying John died the 16th.” An entire state of mourning reveals itself in “2 canned hams.” The result of Scanlan’s collaging is an utterly compelling, deeply moving meditation on life and death.
In Aug 9—Fog, Scanlan’s spare, minimalist approach has a maximal emotional effect, remaining with the reader long after the book ends. It is an unclassifiable work from a visionary young writer and artist—a singular portrait of a life revealed by revision and restraint.
Praise for Aug 9 - Fog
"Scanlan’s outstanding debut inventively adapts a real woman’s diary . . . [Aug 9-Fog] is a fascinating chronicle of Scanlan’s obsession, but, more than that, it transforms a seemingly ordinary life into a profound and moving depiction of how humans can love and live. Scanlan’s portrait of an everywoman feels entirely new." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Wholly original . . . [Aug 9–Fog] blurs the lines between nonfiction and fiction, meditating on the passage of time through the life of one woman.” --The A.V. Club
"There is an undeniable poignancy in the readerly act of filling in the gaps of this octogenarian's life, her voice pulled into the present from where it had been suspended . . . A work of frequent beauty." --Kirkus