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Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill & An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

>Two women — one nearing the end of life and one whose child was stillborn — write about death. These two moving memoirs are as clearsighted and honest as Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking.

Diana Athill, a book editor for fifty years and author of two other memoirs, writes about her outlook on life from the vantage point of age 89.

All through my sixties I felt I was still within hailing distance of middle age, not safe on its shores, perhaps, but navigating its coastal waters. My seventieth birthday failed to change this because I managed scarcely to notice it, but my seventy-first did change it. Being “over seventy” is being old; suddenly I was aground on that fact and saw that the time had come to size it up. (Somewhere Towards the End, p. 13)

Former librarian Elizabeth McCracken is the author of a collection of short stories and two novels, The Giant’s House and Niagara Falls All Over Again. She and her husband were living and writing in France during her first pregnancy which had been gloriously trouble-free until the very end; their child, a boy, died before he could be born.

I don’t want to wear my heart on my sleeve or put it away in cold storage. I don’t want to fetishize, I don’t want to repress, I want his death to be what it is: a fact. Something that people know without me having to explain it. I don’t feel the need to tell my story to everyone, but when people ask, Is this your first child? I can’t bear any of the possible answers.
I’m not ready for my first child to fade into history. (An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, p. 15)

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