Made Holy: Essays

Made Holy is now available for pre-order at the University of Georgia Press. The book will be published September 1, 2019.

Lyrically driven, vivid, fragmented prose form the pulse of this moving debut collection on the American family. Entwined by the narratives of generations, Made Holy tells the story of love, loss, and addiction. Emily Arnason Casey employs the lyric imagination to probe memory and the ever-shifting lens of time as she seeks to make sense of the disease that haunts her maternal family tree and the alchemy of loss and longing.

The lakes of her childhood in Minnesota form the interior landscape of this book, a kind of watery nostalgia for something just beyond her reach:

“I know this feeling,” she writes. “We travel along the surface of time, and then suddenly the layers give way, and we are in another year, another body, another place.”

Casey’s willingness to honestly examine the past and present with contemplative lyricism offers fresh perspective and new understanding. In electric moments that are utterly relatable, she weaves a tale of love and commitment to the truth of her experience despite the incredible desire to keep alive a legacy of secrets. Like the mullein plant she invokes in the final essay, these essays form a kind of “guardian to the lost.”

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Made Holy consists of 20 essays written in lyric meditation, as well as traditional personal narrative, that examine the relationship of memory and the passage of time, childhood and the late coming of age of a young woman and writer whose family history of alcoholism and loss continue to fuel her understanding of what it means to be human and “made holy.” Each essay navigates the geography of memory, family history, disease, or motherhood by way of an investigation into her understanding of loss and longing. Ultimately coming to accept that the landscape of her imagination is made of her childhood, and nostalgia and desire are the twin forces provoking her exploration of the world, she is pulled between the physical worlds of Northern Minnesota and Vermont, motherhood and her work as a writer, her desire for rebellion and her struggle with alcoholism in both her own life and the lives of those she loves.

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Burnt Shanty Lake