If you ever wondered what life was about, if you ever felt yours was not “exciting” enough, if you ever turned in vain to highbrow books that might tell you, then you should read this book, for the ordinary diaries of ordinary people will reassure you that yours is no different than anyone else’s—friends die, flowers come fast. This one, written half a century ago by an elderly woman, has been artfully arranged by Kathryn Scanlan to reveal the simplicity—and hidden poetry—of all our lives.
— Mary Ruefle, author of My Private Property
[I]n this unusual, finely judged and wrought work, [Kathryn Scanlan] has created beautifully resonant lines of what amounts to prose poetry out of the found diaries of an elderly stranger and in doing so has reminded us of the beauty that can be discovered in the ordinary and in ordinary speech.
—Lydia Davis, author of Essays: One
How does one strip the bark of a tree and feel its full, hidden verdant life? Kathryn Scanlan’s novelistic erasure feat is “that puzzle a humdinger” and her words are “beautiful sweaters” that she has been stitching, unstitching, restitching, restricting, unrestricting from the wool and thread of an octogenarian diarist for the last decade or so. These Scanlan passages of life—you should take them with you wherever you go.
—Vi Khi Nao, author of Sheep Machine
We read like we live: next to death. When you write, you’re asking someone to spend something finite on something fake—so it’s got to be good. Aug 9-Fog is not only good, but it fulfills fiction’s only moral obligation: to bring us as close to death as possible...[It] is brilliant and ordinary, rife with life’s ordinary miracles and ordinary disasters, the sort of book you need to reread and want to memorize—a morsel you can savor forever, like how you wish life could be.
—Michael Mungiello, Barrelhouse
'Sun shining then rainy but clearing,' Scanlan ends her version of the diary. And in those six unpunctuated words, the entire history of human perseverance is revealed.
—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
Aug 9—Fog bridges the gap between generations; its central relationship is one created across decades through an intimate act of collaboration. It is a fascinating book, at once philosophical and tender, addressing themes of authorship and legacy, life, death, depth, debt...it boldly quarries the past, answering vital questions about the present in doing so.
—Xenobe Purvis, The Stinging Fly