The Exit Is the Entrance
download cover image ►

The Exit Is the Entrance

Essays on Escape

Title Details

Pages: 217

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6733-0

List Price: $24.95

eBook

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6735-4

List Price: $24.95

eBook

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6734-7

List Price: $24.95

The Exit Is the Entrance

Essays on Escape

Lyrical snapshots of friendship, violence, love, and longing in working-class America

Skip to

  • Description
  • Reviews
Lydia Paar joined the American workforce at fourteen, holding nearly thirty different jobs from twenty-five homes across eight states into adulthood. These essays explore her attempts to evade or transform the lower-middle-class American experience across varied cityscapes, towns, and in-between places; through the hip streets of Portland and desolate deserts, in army basic training and on cross-country bus trips, inside eerie St. Louis funeral homes and more, Paar explores how we work, how we alternately imprison and free ourselves with our efforts, and how what we try to transform so often ultimately transforms us.
A necessary book for the moment as well as a pleasure to read and enjoy as an example of fine writing. It is a document that documents and a moving sculptural artwork that moves and moves on the subject of ceaseless motion. This reads as a new memoir of the age.

—Michael Martone, author of Table Talk and Second Thoughts: A Memoir in Prose Poems

Through rich and beautifully textured language, Paar’s The Exit Is the Entrance pulls you into tough jobs, tough armies, tough relationships, and tough cities that are infinitely fascinating but as hard to escape as deep space. Fortunately, through her knife-sharp humor, her clear-eyed perspective, and deep intelligence, Paar breaks us open, breaks us out into easy light.

—Nicole Walker, author of Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

Paar grounds her essays in place and embodied experience, varying voice to match content so as to provide a fresh and interesting perspective on threads touched upon in multiple essays in the collection. She reframes a number of familiar issues—work, desire, relationships, privilege, and lack thereof, in particular—in new and insightful ways.

—Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir

Paar is a wanderer, seeker, and unflinching guide through a series of dynamic endings and beginnings that finally lead to a sense of home. As dynamic as the subjects they broach, these essays are razor-sharp—as attuned to life’s sobering realities as to its unexpected sources of light. In partaking of Paar’s collection, we’re reminded of the hard and beautiful necessity of finding our way to what is ours and leaving what is not.
An incisive and insightful debut; stunning in its depth and scope.

—Sonja Livingston, author of Ghostbread

The Exit Is the Entrance has it all: well-crafted memories of coming of age in late 1990s Portland, framed by the most popular flicks of the time, violence lurking at every turn, an essay about going AWOL from the US military at age nineteen with four fractured bones after a summer of 'smoke sessions' for minor infractions at basic training, and a piece about working a demoralizing job at a magnet factory. It has a robot named Carey, (a piece of artificial intelligence that Paar is training in St. Louis, Missouri, which happens to be the murder capital of the nation), and it also has the desert: the vastness of it, first, Phoenix, 'its luminescent pink streetlights pearling in small globes on the surfaces of silver skyscrapers in the plane-streaked night sky,' and then, Prescott, where Paar’s life unfolds more slowly: clunky, nighttime bike rides and flocks of crows. Paar writes about the spaciousness of the desert, the 'whispery cicada pulse of summer neighborhood streets lazy with heat' that kept her 'ear to the dirt.' The prose itself is complex and crystalline, but most importantly, The Exit Is the Entrance has the benefit of an extremely clear-sighted narrator to guide us through this collection with equal parts self-interrogation and softness. As Paar examines what it means to leave, to find a way a forward—no matter the complicated web of circumstances—she gives us permission to do the same, and to parse out possibilities for the future.

—Gabe Montesanti, author of Brace for Impact: A Memoir

About the Author/Editor

LYDIA PAAR is an essayist and fiction writer. An MFA recipient from Washington University and an MA recipient from Northern Arizona University, she lives in Tucson and teaches writing at the University of Arizona.