Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Life Filled With Loss

By Frank Reiss

Jessica Handler's memoir, Invisible Sisters, was compared by Atlanta Magazine's Teresa Weaver to The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. It is an apt comparison, for Handler's work, like Didion's, finds surprising uplift in the most heartbreaking of stories.

Handler grew up in Atlanta's Morningside neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s, the oldest of three daughters. Both of her sisters died of rare blood diseases, leaving Handler with the legacy of a decimated family, memories of a fleetingly idyllic youth and imaginings of what life might have been like had such tragedy not befallen them.

One of her coping mechanisms has been keeping detailed journals throughout her life, and these have enabled Handler to capture her family's experience in rich and intimate detail. The memoir also serves as a portrait of the Atlanta during some of its most volatile years (she attended Dr. Martin Luther King's funeral) and her present life: married, childless by choice, and an instructor of creative writing.

In its graceful handling of such emotionally raw material, Invisible Sisters stands as terrific instruction itself on the art of writing. And in conversation Handler reveals herself to be good-humored and wizened by her act of rendering her life into art.

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