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Check It Out: The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays by C.J. Hauser

This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Named a best book of the year for 2022 by both Time and The Guardian, today I’m recommending The Crane Wife, a memoir-in-essays by C.J. Hauser.

Ten days after calling off their wedding, CJ Hauser went on an expedition to Texas to study the whooping crane. After a week wading through the gulf, they realized they’d almost signed up to live someone else’s life. Hauser releases themselves from traditional narratives of happiness and goes looking for ways of living that leave room for the unexpected, making plenty of mistakes along the way.

In these essays, they kiss Internet strangers and officiate at a wedding. They reread Rebecca in the house their boyfriend once shared with his ex-wife and rewind Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story to learn how not to lose yourself in a relationship. They think about Florence Nightingale at a robot convention and grief at John Belushi’s rock and roll gravesite. And maybe most impactfully, the difference between those stories we’re asked to hold versus those we choose to carry. Told with the late-night barstool directness of your wisest, most big-hearted friend, The Crane Wife is a book for everyone whose life doesn’t look quite the way they thought it would.

Expanding on the viral sensation of this memoir’s title essay, novelist CJ Hauser has crafted what fellow author Alexander Chee describes as a “funny, exciting, vulnerable—truly visionary” collection and I couldn’t agree more. The way Hauser explores love’s many forms with such frank, raw honesty had me both crying laughing and just plain crying. To fully savor and appreciate Hauser’s brilliant writing, this memoir is best read in small doses, one essay at a time.

Check out The Crane Wife and other memoirs like it at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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