Elizabeth: Alone Together

Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 by [Jennifer Haupt, Faith Adiele, Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, W. Ralph Eubanks, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Pam Houston, Major Jackson, Jean Kwok, Devi S. Laskar, Caroline Leavitt, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Luis Alberto Urrea, Steve Yarbrough, Lidia Yuknavitch]As “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day,” for months that the pandemic has made feel like years, it can be difficult to find bright spots, let alone the light at the end of the tunnel.  One such bright spot appeared yesterday as I was spending a few masked, socially distant moments at a local independent bookstore.

The joy!

There, among shelves filled with so many political tell-all books it seemed as if everyone in the world had written one, I found Alone Together, edited by Jennifer Hauput.  The book, subtitled Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19, is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews that “serves as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during a time of isolation.”

The cover and the concept caught my attention, but it was the fact that all proceeds from the book will be donated to the Book Industry Charitable Fund, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community, that convinced me to make the purchase.

In response to the pandemic, Jennifer Haupt rallied 90 authors, as well as her publisher and other business partners, to contribute their work, free of charge, to support independent booksellers during the pandemic. The roster of diverse voices includes Faith Adiele, Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Luis Alberto Urrea, Pam Houston, Jean Kwok, Major Jackson, Caroline Leavitt, Devi S. Laskar, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Garth Stein, Steve Yarbrough, and Lidia Yuknavitch. Read more about all the contributors here.

The overarching theme of the book is how this age of isolation and uncertainty is changing us as individuals and a society and is divided into five sections: What Now?, Grieve, Comfort, Connect, and Don’t Stop!. The print book contains 69 essays, interviews, and poems. The audio and ebook editions have 22 bonus pieces. 

Full disclosure:  I have not read the book yet (I did just get it, after all), but I really loved the concept of a group of writers getting together to create something that could entertain, connect people, and also give a little boost to booksellers.  I’m thinking this will be my go-to book for the foreseeable future, as I replace watching the news before bed with curling up with a good book.

I have a fondness for books written for charitable causes–from Stephen Colbert’s Whose Boat is This Boat? (proceeds support hurricane relief) to the Stories for Homes anthology (proceeds support the housing charity Shelter) that featured a short story by our very own Jilly, I have a number of them on my shelf.  Enjoyable in their own right, I tend to think of them as donations that come with a bonus book.

I’m looking forward to reading something that is not a Ngaio Marsh mystery (much as I enjoy them) and to reading some new voices.

Definitely a bright spot.

So, what bright spot have you found lately?

3 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Alone Together

  1. I bumped into an Australian TV show called Mystery Road. It stars Judy Davis, of whom I’ve long been a fan, and Aaron Pederson, who is of Arrernte and Arabana Australian Aboriginal descent. He’s been in Jack Irish, which I’ve seen, and a bunch of other stuff I have not. They play cops: Davis in a town so small it doesn’t have a detective on the force, so when two boys go missing, one White and one Aboriginal, she calls whoever she calls to get a detective for the case, and this guy shows up. He’s an uncommunicative loner with a bunch of family issues, all of which eventually show up at his workplace. She’s the half-owner of the family ranch, a huge spread and primary employer in the area, and while she knows everyone in town and has gone out on a limb to protect and serve its Aboriginal members, she’s been ignorant of—hello, modern times—the systemic racism of her family.

    I haven’t been able to watch or read anything too difficult in these times, and I had to pause the episodes on this show for a week when the story evolved to a scene and story line I thought would send me crashing. But I’m glad I went back after that to finish up the season. The story threads came together in a very satisfactory way all the way around. And while I can’t say that racism was defeated in this small town, it sure took a body blow. And the acting and scenery were terrific. The whole time I felt like I was watching a story that was difficult and painful and yet held out hope and promise. So that made me happy.

    There’s only two seasons of it—I’m not sure if it got cancelled or it just halted during the epidemic—and I’ve only watched one so far. But I’m looking forward to starting season 2 tonight. 🙂

  2. I am happy to report that the Fred the Vampire Accountant series keeps up the quality even into book four (which I just finished). I am even happier that the romantic arc MOVES, unlike *ahem* Stephanie Plum.

    I’ve also caught up on a few recommendations that people have given me. I loved both of Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test. Also, both of Talia Hibbert’s recent books, Get a Life, Chloe Brown and Take a Hint, Dani Brown. Looking forward to the next book in the Brown series!

    I’m also finding storytellers who tweet. There was a fascinating thread about Brexit people trying to sell their French second home. Fact or fiction? Hard to tell. I didn’t want to do the research. Also, there was an amazing story just yesterday (I think?) about a guy whose brother-in-law was sick of buying rice everyday, so bought some wholesale and wound up with a TRUCK of it in front of his house. The Art of Negotiation was very fascinating, especially since the story was told via the guy’s mother (MIL to the Rice Guy), and they were all trying to practice social distancing.

    Plus, the temps here went down to about 20C. That’s 68 F and it’s so comfortable! A little weird for August 31, but now that it’s September, it’s OK, I think. (Could use a little sunshine, but I’m not going to knock the cool weather.)

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