ISBN-10: 1571311572
ISBN-13: 9781571311573
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publish Date: 11/14/2023
Dimensions: 8.60" L, 5.50" W, 1.10" H

Cacophony of Bone: The Circle of a Year


Price: $26.00


A Kirkus Reviews “Most Anticipated Book of the Fall 2023”

From the acclaimed author of Thin Places, a luminous day book about an unexpected year and finding home.

Two days after the winter solstice in 2019, Kerri and her partner moved to a remote cottage in the heart of Ireland. They were looking for a home, somewhere to settle into a stable life. Then the pandemic arrived and their secluded abode became a place of enforced isolation. What was meant to be the beginning of an enriching new chapter was instead marked by uncertainty and fear. The seasons still passed, the swallows returned, the rhythms of the natural world went on, but in many ways 2020 was unlike any year we had seen before. And for Kerri there would be one more change: a baby, longed for but utterly, beautifully unexpected.

Intensely lyrical, fragmentary in subject and form, Cacophony of Bone is an ode to a year, a place, and a love that transformed a life. When the pandemic came, time seemed to shapeshift; in Kerri’s elegant prose, we can trace its quickening, its slowing. She maps the circle of a year–a journey from one place to another, field notes of a life–from one winter to the next, telling of a changed life in a changed world, as well as all that stays the same. All that keeps on living and breathing, nesting and dying. This is a book for the reader who wants to slow down, guided by a voice that is utterly singular, “rich and strange,” (Robert Macfarlane). A book about home–the deepening of family, the connections that sustain us.

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Praise for Cacophony of Bone

"In poems and essays, Ni Dochartaigh writes in exquisite detail of the seasons, beginning with the 'ghost-trace, moon-white' and silent winter that kicks off a new phase of life."Lorraine Berry, Los Angeles Times

"The author's day-book follow-up to her acclaimed debut, Thin Places . [. . .] ní Dochartaigh's observations are lyrical and relatable. [. . .] A raw, honest, and poetic memoir."Kirkus Reviews

"Kerri ní Dochartaigh (Thin Places, 2022) takes readers on a yearlong journey through the

unpredictable and unprecedented year of 2020. [. . .] Ní Dochartaigh's reflections during this time are powerful and poignant, examining themes of motherhood, death, and time. As she grapples with depression, sobriety, and fertility, ní Dochartaigh parallels the social turbulence and pandemic chaos with the majesty of nature. Unyielding storms, precious birds, and beautiful plants offer a sense of peace to a broken world. Readers are reminded to "remember the light," with notes of gratitude and optimism weaved throughout, along with many nods to the healing power of literature. Personal, relatable, and restorative, Cacophony of Bone voices a crucial plea to have faith in humanity."–Grace Rosen, Booklist

"Through poems, essays, snippets, diary entries–an impressionist painting of words–Dochartaigh leads us through a life-changing pandemic year in which she makes a home, takes refuge in the natural world, and experiences the first months of pregnancy. Lovely and lyrical prose celebrates the beauty and meaning found all around us. A beautiful book you'll want to sit with."–Alana Haley, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, MI

"This is a book to read slowly, sharpened pencil in hand. This is a book to read at daybreak and dusk, in the garden or by the water. This is a book to read for grief and joy and the spaces between. ní Dochartaigh's sentences gleam with the same moon-bright light that they take as their subject, making Cacophony of Bone a truly incandescent read."–Ellie Windsor, Bookpeople, Austin, TX

"During the time Kerri ní Dochartaigh was finished Thin Places (a wonderful book), she moved to a remote railway cottage in Ireland that her partner had inherited. In her 36 years she'd moved an average of once per year. It proved to be more transformative than she could have imagined. Within weeks of arriving in late December, a Covid lockdown was put in place. In her relative isolation with her partner and dog, it proved to be the beginnings of a new and unexpected life. After giving up on being able to conceive years before, she became pregnant. She had never planted a garden and discovered the healing that gardening can provide. She began this book in the times there, searching for the meaning of home and having a child. ní Dochartaigh writes in an embracingly beautiful way. Her insights during such tumultuous times provide an unexpected comfort in the memoires of the pandemic that changed us forever. Allow yourself this gift of words."–Todd Miller, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI

"Raw, visionary, lucid, and mystical, Cacophony of Bone speaks of the connection between all things, and the magic that can be found in everyday life."–Katherine May, bestselling author of Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age

"Kerri ní Dochartaigh's Cacophony of Bone is an arrestingly poetic, genre-bending meditation on time and place. If the pandemic made one thing clear, it's that time is shimmering and slippery, a shapeshifter. It moves the way Kerri ní Dochartaigh's brilliant mind moves, like a fast, deep river. I am as thrilled by the artistry of her sentences as I am by the wisdom they carry in their current. Cacophony of Bone will live on my bookshelf beside Thin Places, one of my favorite books of the past several years. I know I'll reach for them both again and again."–Maggie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful

"In a time of isolation, Kerri ní Dochartaigh made a place of belonging. In a season of sickness, she became a vessel for unlooked-for life. In a year of burgeoning fear and rising fury, she tilled her grief into dark soil and brought forth a blooming garden. Kerri ní Dochartaigh is nothing less than an alchemist, and Cacophony of Bone is a wondrous book."–Margaret Renkl, author of Graceland, At Last
"A hypnotic book, at once bare and dense with the stuff of life: bolted lettuce, a cup of tea gifted at the end of a rainy day, always the bright, still world returning. At its heart there sits a human creature, a woman writer wrestling her awareness to attention again and again. A sacred book, for turning outward and inward at the same time."–Elizabeth Rush, author of Rising, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize"Reading Kerri ní Dochartaigh's Cacophony of Bone is like stepping inside the place where poetry comes from. In these pages objects, time, form, memory, grief, politics, sensuality, and change meet. It's a conversation, a prayer, an address, and an answer. I found myself talking with her as I read."–Pádraig Ó Tuama, author of Poetry Unbound

"Kerri's voice is utterly her own, rich and strange. I've folded down the corners of many pages, marking sentences and moments that glitter out at me. Wow."–Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

"Kerri ní Dochartaigh's luminous first book was called Thin Places; in Cacophony of Bone she makes a study of the thickening that can happen as we dwell, garden, survive, and root. Mapping one extraordinary year of pandemic enclosure–from January to solstice–she charts moonlight, swim, seedpod, and sprouting, also giving us a record of how the steadiness of a writing practice can become a binding, can scaffold us into more steadiness in our own lives. For those that wonder what it might be like to make a craft of bearing witness, ní Dochartaigh's book is a reminder to live with gratitude and curiosity, and to face each day with heart and notebook open."–Tess Taylor, author of Leaning Toward Light

"Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a singular writer, and Cacophony of Bone is a stunning work that bristles with light. There isn't a sentence in this marvelous daybook that doesn't awaken in the reader a deeper sense of wonder, reverence, and–despite all–belonging."–Chris Dombrowski, author of The River You Touch

"Powerful, unflinching . . . Part hymn to nature, part memoir."Guardian
"Dochartaigh takes great solace in nature, and much of the book is a meditation on the beautiful landscapes and flora and fauna that surround her . . . Passionate, moving and beautifully written."Sunday Times

"Kerri ní Dochartaigh is something of a modern-day mystic, a writer of acute sensitivity and wonder. There is such beauty, such pain, such rawness in this diary of an extraordinary year–you read it feeling quickened, awakened - that you, too, are missing a layer of skin. It's a very special book indeed."–Lucy Caldwell, author of These Days

"[Kerri] is sensitive to the legacies of loss and trauma and highly attuned to the gifts of the natural world and the possibilities of place."–Amy Liptrot, author of The Instant

"Piercingly honest, movingly heartfelt. There is so much soul and knowledge and compassion, it gave me shivers."–Elif Shafak, author of The Island of Missing Trees

Praise for Thin Places

"Luminous . . . For the author, who has suffered from alcoholism, depression, and suicidal ideation, the wild places surrounding her hometown help release her anxieties and bring her unparalleled peace. They have become her thin places. A beautifully written tribute to the healing power of nature."Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"In writing that's ethereal and elliptical, [Dochartaigh] laments Ireland's collective 'loss of connection with the natural world' and cleverly uses this 'unwilding' as a warning about the threat of extinction faced by indigenous flora and fauna, and also as a lens through which to look at the toll of oppression and violence on humanity . . . By turns subtle and urgent, this offers a powerful and complex portrait of a land and its people." –Publishers Weekly

"A remarkable piece of writing. I don't think I've ever read a book as open-hearted as this. It resists easy pieties of nature as a healing force, but nevertheless charts a recovery which could never have been achieved without landscape, wild creatures and 'thin places.' It is also flocked with luminous details (moths, birds, feathers, skulls, moving water). Kerri's voice is utterly her own, rich and strange. I've folded down the corners of many pages, marking sentences and moments that glitter out at me. Wow."–Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

"How does a person contend with coming from a place where suffering is part of its legacy? . . . It takes ní Dochartaigh many years to find her way back to the most important place of all: herself. Whether she's meditating on moths or birds or the vivid colors of her home country, it's her own perspective on the world around her that grounds her, soothes her, and offers solace."–Michele Filgate, Boston Globe

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ISBN-10: 1571311572
ISBN-13: 9781571311573
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publish Date: 11/14/2023
Dimensions: 8.60" L, 5.50" W, 1.10" H
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