Megan Stielstra

The Wrong Way to Save Your Life

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From an important new American writer comes this powerful collection of personal essays on fear, creativity, art, faith, academia, the Internet, and justice.
In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality.
Whether she's imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra's work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.
Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra's voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.
“Stielstra is a masterful essayist.”—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger

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258 printed pages
Publication year
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  • ☁️ ursula ☁️has quoted5 years ago
    Hold on to what you love, the songs and books and style and obsessions and causes and questions that make you you. Find people who love these things, too. When you get lost, they’ll help you find your way back to yourself.
  • ☁️ ursula ☁️has quoted5 years ago
    Not long after, we’d get the call that it was safe, but just then we drove down the alley, leaving yet another home behind.
    I wrapped my body around my son’s, feeling him breathe: Slow. Easy. Calm.
    I can still feel it.
    A memory not in my head but my bones.
  • ☁️ ursula ☁️has quoted5 years ago
    Some of it, I’m now realizing, is an attempt to process loss: my writing isn’t in the hard drive, the Dropbox, the journals. It’s a practice, a process, like my friend Pete taught me years ago with the tubes and the sketches and the mess. You can’t grab it as you run out the door, can’t hold it in your hands any more than you can hold your own heart.
    There were twenty steps from him to me, an invisible line between us.
    I stayed on that line.
    The mind’s got nothing on the gut.
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