New From Cris Mazza

The Decade of Letting Things Go

A Postmenopause Memoir

“The essays in Cris Mazza’s new collection are wide-ranging, raw, and full of unexpected insights and deep truths. Mazza is an important voice and an accomplished writer, and The Decade of Letting Things Go is an essential book.”

—Margot Singer, author of Underground Fugue

 

The Decade of Letting Things Go is a book of linked essays containing still-relevant experiences that take place after the age of becoming socially and/or professionally invisible, as Cris Mazza searches for the elusive serenity of self-acceptance among a growing list of losses. But is there liberation in these losses?

Mazza’s story contains many of life’s expected losses: pets, parents, old mentors, and symbols of enduring natural places, plus the loss of identities—child, student, partner, “successful” author. Some of her latelife experiences aren’t so easily categorized: having a mentally ill neighbor try to get her to come outside and fight; unpacking the complicity in thirtyyear-old #MeToo incidents; “hooking up” with a “boy” from her teenaged past; struggling to accept that lifelong sexual dysfunction will never wane; realizing a deeply trusted mentor from forty-five years ago might be declining into dementia; plus a lifelong attachment to a childhood wound of having a “preferred child” as a sibling.

Ultimately there is also the apparent loss of hope in ever finding contentment in the mark one makes in the world or in ever forming an identity that brings contentment—except that the latter two have no expiration date, and the exhausted author, at the end, is ready to keep looking.

 

Released March 2023 

Spuyten Duyvil Books

It’s No Puzzle

(A Memoir in Artifact)

In these linked essays, Cris Mazza probes questions of heritage, legacy, and identity­. The result of collecting and preserving her parents’ personal artifacts — letters and photos, newspaper clippings, school records, baby books, yearbooks, concert programs, etc. — was not a linear narrative of their lives. Instead, the artifacts exposed mysteries, obscurities, ambiguities, odd juxtapositions, and questions. The individual stories of experiences — theirs as well as the traces of the author’s — are a scaffold to allow a closer glimpse at the culture in which her parents were forging their lives in 1940s, 50s and into the 60s in Southern California. The postwar era is more complex, convoluted and iniquitous than the idealized “growth of the middle class.” Using these artifacts, the questions and research they provoke, Mazza put together the few puzzle pieces, then contemplated possibilities for a complete(r) picture. In so doing, she altered her own notions of the world she was born into and how it made her.

 

Cris Mazza is the author of 4 memoirs, 11 novels and 6 collections of short fiction. Mazza’s first novel, How to Leave a Country, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction. Her second published book was the critically acclaimed collection of fictions, Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? She is a native of Southern California and has recently retired from a 31-year tenure as a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mazza now resides in the upper Midwest’s northwoods.

photo credit Chicago Tribune/TCA

 

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