Sky Songs: Meditations on Loving a Broken World
Sky Songs is a collection of essays that takes inspiration from the ancient seabed in which Jennifer Sinor lives, an elemental landscape that reminds her that our lives are shaped by all that has passed through. Beginning with the conception of her first son, which coincided with the tragic death of her uncle on an Alaskan river, and ending a decade later in the Himalayan home of the Dalai Lama, Sinor offers a lyric exploration of language, love, and the promise inherent in the stories we tell: to remember.
The timing couldn’t be better for Jennifer Sinor’s Sky Songs. In this era of dissent and polarization, her essays take us right to the edge of what is most beautifully, troublingly, and excitingly human. The fragility of the body, the perseverance of the soul: we’re willing to dive deep into these essays about love, fear, family, and the healing power of solitude because we’re in Sinor’s steady hands. I’m grateful for her fierce honesty and her wise insights.
—Debra Gwartney, Author of I Am a Stranger Here Myself
Sinor’s skills in interweaving different stories within the essays and finding the hidden connections between them are evident throughout. Together, they work to create a tapestry that is both searching and insightful. A lyrically profound collection.
Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe mistrusted words. She claimed color as her language. Nevertheless, in the course of her long life, the great American painter wrote thousands of letters—more than two thousand survive between her and her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, alone. Jennifer Sinor’s Letters Like the Day honors O’Keeffe, her modernist landscapes, and, crucially, the value of letter writing. In the painter’s correspondence, we find an intimacy with words that is all her own. Taking her letters as a touchstone, Sinor experiments with the limits of language using the same aesthetic that drove O’Keeffe’s art. Through magnification, cropping, and juxtaposition—hallmarks of modernism—Sinor explores the larger truths at the center of O’Keeffe’s work: how we see, capture, and create. Letters Like the Day pursues the highest function of art—to take one’s medium to the edge and then push beyond.
With the precision and grace of a poet, and with a welcome authenticity rare these days, Sinor writes a hybrid book of memoir, cultural commentary, biography, anthology. Even those with no special interest in American modernism in general or O’Keeffe in particular, will find here a world of wide wonder, from the black and lit places of the heart, from painted canyons to far-flung shores.
Author of The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars and Bodies, of the Holocene
Inspired by the great modernist O’Keeffe, Sinor’s essays are also original and modern: strange and poetic, sensual and provocative, and at times, heartbreaking.
Author of How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living
Ordinary Trauma: A Memoir
As if she could not bear to leave it, Jennifer Sinor came into this spinning world twice, once dead and once alive, the first time born from her mother, the second, from a bucket, its silvery metal sides a poor substitute for the womb, yet enough. Through spare yet lyrical prose, Sinor threads together the story of how she learned to carry the bucket she was born into and reclaim all that was tossed away. In short, almost telegraphic, linked pieces, Ordinary Trauma reveals moments in life that are made to appear unremarkable but harm deeply. Set against the late Cold War and a military childhood spent amid fast-attack submarines and long-range nuclear missiles, this memoir delivers a revelatory look at how moments that typically pass unnoticed form the very basis for our perceptions of both love and loss.
An outstanding memoir: keenly intelligent, elegantly shaped, beautifully described, and rich with honest insight. At times Sinor’s voice is as intimate as a whisper, and the prose is always crisp, clear, pulling the reader forward into the deeper ends of her story.
—Dinty W. Moore
Author of Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals and the memoir Between Panic and Desire
A sharp, relevant coming-of-age memoir. Sinor’s writing is strong—exploratory, self-implicating, and often simply beautiful.
Author of the memoir Live Through This
The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing: Annie Ray’s Diary
In a book that blends the scholarly and the creative, Jennifer Sinor reads the diary of her great-great-great-aunt Annie Ray, a woman who homesteaded in the Dakotas in the late 19th-century. Annie’s diary is the kind of writing that many would dismiss as boring or ordinary. Her days are filled with baking bread and mopping floors. In fact, as a writer, she works to keep the extraordinary and traumatic at bay, outside her days. Jennifer thinks about the value of this kind of everyday writing, writing that is typically ignored or tossed, and works to find a way to read it on its own terms—not asking for story but seeing and honoring the way Annie made her days one spare word at a time.
The delight of this volume is found in Annie Ray’s days, which without Sinor’s passionate discoveries, would remain outside our view.
—Great Plains Quarterly
Sinor’s book surprises because it defies traditional genres.