October Book Review: 'Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19'

Oct 13, 2020

Living through the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in ways large and small. A new collection of essays and poems explores various ways we are reacting to and coping with this uninvited guest.  Amy Mills has this month’s book review of Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19.

As the Covid-19 pandemic overshadows our lives, what can we read to make sense of the sadness and uncertainty? A new book of essays and poems edited by Jennifer Haupt looks the pandemic squarely in the face and responds through the voices of dozens of American writers. The book, Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19, presents many facets of living through this unfortunate and confusing time. Loss, anxiety, grief, disruption, and changed perspectives are shared in this wide-ranging set of writings. Essays and poems are perfect reading if your interest has been piqued but your attention span has shortened. You can read a few pages, set the book down, and pick up again later in any chapter.

In one essay, Pam Houston describes being quarantined at her ranch, where her excess time leads her to save the life of a premature lamb. Kevin Sampsell, laid off from his job in Portland, describes the “dark limbo,” and he wrote this before the Portland demonstrations and forest fires. Jennifer Haupt confronts the question of why get out of bed in the morning. Did most of us ever question getting out of bed a year ago?

Food is a frequent theme: the comfort of cooking, of being served, and food as a connection to others. Zoom appears in several essays, both as a life- and job-saver, but also a hollow way to interact with others. Many essays touch upon small acts of kindness and grace as we help and are helped by family, friends, and pets.

Assembling diverse fragments of personal experiences and observations in one book, Alone Together gives a sense of the variety as well as the commonality of our situations.

Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19 is available from Summit County Library and will soon be available from Park City Library. This is Amy Mills, for Friends of the Park City Library.