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The Bright Hour
By Nina Riggs
An Amazon Best Book of June 2017: The poet Nina Riggs was 38 years old and living with her young family in Greensboro, North Carolina when doctors discovered a small spot of cancer in her breast. What at first seemed easily treatable turned out not to be, and she found herself in what Montaigne – the writer she turns to for wisdom — called “suspicious country”: a place where death might be just around the corner. In The Bright Hour, the book Riggs wrote during her ultimately terminal illness, she maps that country, determined to see what is lovely in the landscape: her sweet, expressive little boys, her husband, who is honest and funny whenever possible, and her circle of family and friends, some of whom are also going through treatment for cancer. Riggs’s great-great-great grandfather was the poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (referred to here as RWE for short) and Riggs herself displays a formidable gift for language and a light but honest touch with the often — but not always — dark emotions evoked by her situation. To call a book so lovely and sad this year’s When Breath Becomes Air, would not be inaccurate, but would not do it justice. –Sarah Harrison Smith, The Amazon Book Review