The Wet Wound

An Elegy in Essays

Title Details

Pages: 192

Illustrations: 7 b&w images

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 03/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6668-5

List Price: $23.95

The Wet Wound

An Elegy in Essays

A collection of lyric essays that discuss grief and loss

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  • Description
  • Reviews

This debut essay collection is inspired by the grief Maddie Norris experienced in the wake of her father's death from cancer when she was seventeen. Norris uses a medical lens to examine the anguish that followed and likens mourning to wound care.

These linked essays examine grief from different angles, resulting in a multilayered exploration of why, contrary to popular belief, keeping wounds open is the best way to care for them physically and emotionally. Norris approaches the narrative through various topics—the investigation of body preservation, the history of skin grafts, and a deep dive into physical pain—all of them related to how she carries this fundamental loss.

By centering on the importance of mourning (a long-term practice frowned upon in Western culture), the essays unsettle conventional wisdom as the text pushes against the stereotypical notion of "letting go" and "moving on." The Wet Wound: An Elegy in Essays thus unpacks the question: What happens when, instead of following steps prescribed by those outside loss, we let ourselves dwell in grief?

The Wet Wound is one of the most intense and revolutionary books I’ve read in the way it approaches grief. There is no getting over grief, the way we are expected to. There is only the wound and finding a way to live with it. To leave a wound wet is to leave it open and to let it come in contact with many other obsessions: medical history, orca parenting, postcards and letters, distance running, longing, hyperbaric chambers, archives, skin (which is also form), and skin on skin. So let it be wet, this wound; let it be curious and intense and hard and weird, this first beautiful book.

—Ander Monson, author of Letter to a Future Lover

The Wet Wound is an exquisite, visceral book—a study, down to the tissues that form us, of the love that is so capable of wounding us and the cataclysmic processes of healing. Norris's portraits of her younger self and the father she lost are extraordinary, familiar, and true, and I am so moved by the closeness to their hearts this narrative offers us.

—Elissa Washuta, author of My Body Is a Book of Rules

About the Author/Editor

MADDIE NORRIS is the Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work appears in Guernica, Fourth Genre, Territory, and Essay Daily, among other publications. Her essays have won the Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction from Ninth Letter and have been named as notable in Best American Essays. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.