Publication date: July 18, 2023
Creative Nonfiction | Essays | Alcove Chapbook
Stephanie Austin had a complicated father and a complicated relationship with him. His death, after a short battle with lung cancer, forced her to reckon with his always-threatened and now permanent absence from her life. Then the health of her grandmother, with whom she had always been close, began to fail, and she faced another looming loss, intensified by the bewildering early months of the pandemic. Something I Might Say sits us at the bedside inside the sickroom with Stephanie Austin, and reminds us that the histories of our loves—the kindnesses and the disappointments too—sit with us in that final room.
“Lyrical, incisive, and wise, in Something I Might Say Stephanie Austin zooms into the most profound moments of loss—both the mundane and extraordinary—rendering them absolutely heart wrenching and exquisite.”
—Melissa Valentine, author of The Names of All the Flowers
“Austin constructs my favorite kind of memoir: one without any easy answers, one that celebrates the confusing privilege of being alive. This kinetic book gets it exactly right about what it’s like to love our people in a warts-and-all way.”
—Joshua Mohr, author of Model Citizen
“In the hard-hitting and unflinchingly honest Something I Might Say, Stephanie Austin explores complicated grief and the experiences of helping to usher her father and grandmother into their deaths. Woven throughout these narratives is a testament to the way grief inundates our lives. Never shying away from an intense detail or truth-searing emotion, her work leaves you feeling raw—in the best way possible. Brilliantly written with an addicting style of steadfast vulnerability, Austin’s prose will never leave you.”
—Chelsey Clammer, author of Human Heartbeat Detected and Circadian
“Stephanie Austin’s Something I Might Say lays bare the fact that we’re all being broken, all the time, together. These essays don’t chronicle grief so much as burrow inside it like a bug. Here you’ll find the disappointments and indignities of being the daughter of an alcoholic father, the messiness of family life and aging, and the sad wisdom that comes from being part of the hospice care community. But there is beauty here, too. And strength. It’s in the clarity of Austin’s voice, and in her refusal to look away from what hurts. This is the story of a woman determined to be a witness to her own life, and, in that respect, to be free.”
—Steve Edwards, author of Breaking Into the Backcountry
“Stephanie Austin’s Something I Might Say looks at the hard things, unflinchingly. Austin has a gifted ability to combine a matter-of-fact voice with open-hearted writing. A writer who has come to terms with dark irony and has made it vital, Austin gives us humor and insight, as much hope as despair. It doesn’t seem possible to be so delighted by a book about a father dying of cancer, a grandmother dying alone during Covid, and yet I identified so hard with the writing here, I cried. And then, I read some more, and laughed again.”
—Nicole Walker, author of Processed Meats
In restrained and unflinching prose, Austin reaches up and out from the deep well of collective grieving and strangeness of those earliest days of the pandemic to share her story of successive personal losses and what comes after. Her voice—both wry and relatable—does not shy away from the awkwardness and momentary flashes of absurdity that come as she navigates first the death of her father and then her grandmother, nor the waves of complicated and profound love that those losses provoke. “The body opts for hope,” she reminds, as she carves a path through the complex terrain of prolonged dying—with its pills and nurses and codes of conduct—and whether that terrain is familiar or foreign, one can’t help but ache in agreement.
—Chelsea Biondolillo, author of The Skinned Bird
About the author
Stephanie Austin’s short stories and essays have appeared in more than 25 literary journals in the United States and Canada including The Sun, Wigleaf, The Fiddlehead, American Short Fiction, Autofocus Lit, Bending Genres, Carve Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Washington Square Review, Pembroke Magazine, and others. She has an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and is a 2012 Community of Writers Alum. She runs the Mugshot Writers account on Instagram and lives in Arizona with her husband and daughter. Something I Might Say is her debut book publication.
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