From New York Times opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family—and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.
Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents—her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father—and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver.
And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds—the natural one and our own—“the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s own twin.”
Gorgeously illustrated by the author’s brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“Beautifully written, masterfully structured, and brimming with insight into the natural world, Late Migrations can claim its place alongside Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and A Death in the Family. It has the makings of an American classic.”
“A close and vigilant witness to loss and gain, Margaret Renkl wrenches meaning from the intimate moments that define us. Her work is a chronicle of being. And a challenge to cynicism. Late Migrations is flat-out brilliant and it has arrived right on time.”
“Gracefully written and closely observed, Margaret Renkl’s lovely essays are tinged with the longing for family and places now gone while rejoicing in the flutter of birds and life still alive.”
“Late Migrations is the psychological and spiritual portrait of an entire family and place presented in quick takes—snapshots—a soul’s true memoir. The dire dreams and fears of childhood, the mother’s mysterious tears, the imperfect beloved family . . . all are part of a charged and vibrant natural world also filled with rivalry, conflict, the occasional resolution, loss, and delight. Late Migrations is a continual revelation.”