After the loss of her father, Emily Pittinos seeks solace on the road, but as she travels from Michigan to California and back again, she has to reckon with burdens everyone must bear—grief and guilt, resolution and closure, acceptance. In four poignant, lyrically adventurous essays, Pittinos reflects on endearment, irony, volunteering in a bird sanctuary, and the natural beauty of the in-between with humility and quiet levity. Animal, Roadkill, Ashes, Gone explores questions that have no answers, finds comfort in the most unexpected places, and captures grief with an elegant candor that tugs at the most intimate strings of loss.
“Emily Pittinos explores the shapeshifting nature of grief in these luminous and searching essays. Nimbly combining elements of nature writing, travelogue, diary, and poetry into a singular voice, she candidly navigates the aftershocks of loss.”
—Carolyn Kuebler, editor of New England Review
“In this moving collection of essays, Emily Pittinos exposes the complicated nature of grief through powerful observations and stark juxtapositions. With the lyricism of a poet, this compelling prose embodies Montaigne’s notion that an essay should be an attempt to understand one’s view on a subject—and in this case, the subject is both grief and even one’s own mortality as exposed through the death of another. Grief is not a straight line in this collection; it’s a circle that turns back on itself, uncovering new ways for its readers to consider the universal experience of loss.”
—Adam Clay, author of To Make Room for the Sea
“Emily Pittinos is an alchemist. In this essay collection, volunteering at a songbird hospital turns into a meditation on death. Scattering the remains of a beloved becomes a path through personal history. Grief and guilt find illumination and reinvention as their reflections when viewed, and studied, in the mirror of ‘the mind of the one who has lost.’ Beyond its associative intelligence and clarity, the most stunning thing to me about Animal, Roadkill, Ashes, Gone is witnessing Pittinos flex her powers toward further discovery of what happens in the wake of great bereavement. Perhaps the argument here is that discovery is, in fact, what happens.”
—Paul Tran, author of All the Flowers Kneeling