The bright hour A memoir of living and dying

Nina Riggs

Book - 2017

"Built on her wildly popular Modern Love column, 'When a Couch is More Than a Couch' (9/23/2016), a breathtaking memoir of living meaningfully with 'death in the room' by the 38 year old great-great-great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, mother to two young boys, wife of 16 years, after her terminal cancer diagnosis"--

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BIOGRAPHY/Riggs, Nina
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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster 2017.
Language
English
Physical Description
310 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781501169359
1501169351
Main Author
Nina Riggs (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In this memoir, poet Riggs struggles through a breast-cancer diagnosis that, despite treatment and a mastectomy, stubbornly persists until it spreads and becomes terminal. During this battle, Riggs' mother has cancer that becomes terminal, Riggs' friend is diagnosed with cancer that becomes terminal, her son is diagnosed with diabetes, and her parents' dog dies. Throughout, Riggs, who sadly passed earlier this year, presses on, stoic and searching for a philosophy to describe this crazy situation, and for a treatment that will allow her more time with her husband and two young sons. Riggs is to be admired for candidly sharing the battle she fought, and for her no-holds-barred documentation of all the depleting minutiae of such a fight. Throughout, she sprinkles in the philosophies of life she ponders and the gallows humor that helps her cope, which readers may find off-putting in its depth of darkness. Overall, this brutally honest depiction of terminal illness is not for the faint of heart, but will be appreciated for its raw honesty. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Poet Riggs (Lucky, Lucky) has lived under the shade of both a celebrated and a disheartening family tree. The great-great-great-granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, "one small spot," in her late 30s, and she can name a raft of relatives suffering from the same disease, among them her paternal grandfather. Other family cancers included her mother's multiple myeloma. This memoir travels the stages of Riggs's illness, along with the author; her husband, John; and their two boys, Freddy and Benny, as she relates past experiences and current anxieties—her cancer metastasizes and is declared incurable. Riggs quotes RWE when it fits (and it always seems to), as well as one of his subjects, philosopher Michel de Montaigne. She reminds us that we are all in this world until we leave it; the gallows humor surrounding her mother's funeral will make readers howl guiltily but appreciatively. VERDICT Whether confronting disease or not, everyone should read this beautifully crafted book as it imbues life and loved ones with a particularly transcendent glow. [Nina Riggs died on February 26, 2017.]—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Riggs, who lives in Greensboro, N.C., was 38 when she was diagnosed with incurable metastatic breast cancer. The diagnosis comes at the onset of this moving and insightful memoir. Married to a lawyer, and the mother of two young sons, Riggs was initially told that the cancer was "one small spot," but as the memoir progresses (the sections are ominously yet cleverly named after the four "stages" of cancer), the small spot grows and spreads to her spine. She undergoes a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, spinal surgery, and joins a clinical trial. During the same period, Riggs's wisecracking and beloved mother, who had been fighting multiple myeloma for eight years, dies. Despite the profound sadness of her situation, Riggs writes with humor; the memoir is rife with witty one-liners and musings on the joys and challenges of mothering and observations on the importance of loving relationships. The great-great-great-granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Riggs frequently quotes her legendary relative and uses his writings as a guide, as well as the writings of the philosopher Montaigne, whose advice to "live with an awareness of death in the room" she takes seriously. In this tender memoir Riggs displays a keen awareness of and reverence for all the moments of life—both the light, and the dark, "the cruel, and the beautiful." (May) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Discussing motherhood, marriage, friendship, and the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the author, who has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, explores what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author of Lucky, Lucky presents a full-length account of her experiences with terminal metastatic breast cancer as documented in her blog Suspicious Country, a journey that reshaped her views about marriage, motherhood, friendship and memory.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"An exquisite memoir about how to live--and love--every day with 'death in the room,' from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air. 'We are breathless, but welove the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.' Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer--one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. How does one live each day, 'unattached to outcome'? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty? Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs's breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time? Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it's about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina's other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It's a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying 'this is what will be.' Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"Built on her wildly popular Modern Love column, 'When a Couch is More Than a Couch' (9/23/2016), a breathtaking memoir of living meaningfully with 'death in the room' by the 38 year old great-great-great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, mother to two young boys, wife of 16 years, after her terminal cancer diagnosis"--

Review by Publisher Summary 5

***NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER***Best Books of 2017 Selection by * The Washington Post * O Magazine * NPR * Bitch * Medium *“Stunning…heartrending…this year’s When Breath Becomes Air.” —Nora Krug, The Washington Post“Beautiful and haunting.” —Matt McCarthy, MD, USA TODAY“Deeply affecting…simultaneously heartbreaking and funny.” —People (Book of the Week)“Vivid, immediate.” —Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe Starred reviews from * Kirkus Reviews * Publishers Weekly* Library Journal * Most Anticipated Summer Reading Selection by * The Washington Post * Entertainment Weekly * Glamour * The Seattle Times * Vulture * InStyle * Bookpage * Bookriot * Real Simple * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution *An exquisite memoir about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room,” from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air.“We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.”Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal.How does one live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty?Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it’s about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina’s other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It’s a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying “this is what will be.”Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words.