Unhappy Holidays?

For many people, the holidays can be far from joyous, especially for those who are grieving a loss: of a friend or loved one, of a way of life, or of anything else that felt—that was—essential and now is gone.

For a portion of the grieving, including me, few things are more depressing than full-bore holiday cheer: for example, Christmas carols lacking minor chords, or seasonal dramas or comedies with barely a hint of darkness. For people like us, any entertainment that aims to skirt the gloom seems to land us deep in the middle of it.

All this is to say that during this particular holiday season, I’m not turning my back on books, movies, or any other forms of entertainment that are less than cheery, or that face loss head-on. A binge re-watch of Six Feet Under, for instance, has helped me engage more deeply in, and deal with, death and grief, and the humor it delivers is just the kind of humor I need right now.

Also, as the editor of Small Press Picks, I’ve tried to identify fairly new works of fiction that address loss and grieving. Here are a few that I’d like to check out:

Carry the Sky by Kate Gray (Forest Avenue Press)

Fish by Bianca Bagnarelli (Nobrow 17 x 23 Series)

Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours by Luke B. Goebel (the University of Alabama Press)

If you have any of your own suggestions, please send them to me using the Email link below. (And thanks in advance if you do so.)

Meanwhile, I’ll be tucking into Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych, which I never managed to read and which a friend of mine thought I’d find instructive and strangely comforting during this time in my life. And for all of you who are also facing a rough holiday season, I hope that you’ll do what you need to cope, take care of yourself, and move forward as best you can.