By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. See entries from Jonathan Franzen, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, and more.

Doug McLean

Jayson Greene, the author of Once More We Saw Stars, lost his 2-year-old daughter Greta on an ordinary day, while she sat on a city bench with her grandmother. It goes against every instinct that a brick, falling from the eighth story of a crumbling Manhattan building, could end the incandescent life of a child. But that’s the gutting fact of it. It happened, against all sense.

“I imagine it’s the same for all new parents: You slowly learn to believe in your child’s ongoing existence. Their future begins to take shape in your mind,” Greene writes. “[But] what happens to this sense when your child is swiftly killed by a runaway piece of your everyday environment, at the exact moment you had given up thinking that something could take all of this away at any moment? What lesson do your nerve endings learn?”

Greene’s memoir grapples with this lesson: the ruinous insight that the world can wound loved ones at random and for no reason. The book charts how, in the 15 months between Greta’s death and the birth of their second child, he and his wife survived overwhelming grief to find a path toward a new normal: a happiness brave enough to accept life’s constant dangers and complex enough to coexist with sorrow.

In a conversation for this series, Greene described how a passage from Dante’s Inferno inspired the book’s title, and how his work as a music critic helped him with the challenge of articulating unspeakable sadness and joy. A contributing writer and former senior editor at Pitchfork, Greene’s writing has appeared …read more

Source:: <a href= target="_blank" title="How Dante’s Inferno Points the Way Through Unspeakable Grief” >The Atlantic – Culture


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