Cover Image: Animal Bodies

Animal Bodies

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Member Reviews

This book is a memoir told in essays. It is dark and very moving. I skipped over a few of the essays because of triggers for me - grief and loss are too close to home right now. The writing is stunningly beautiful; the author captivates us. A marvel of a book.
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"I cannot access grief without metaphor, a way to measure the unmeasurable."

3.5 stars

this was a beautifully written collection of moving essays filled with lush imagery and emotion. i loved it and would definitely recommend it to other non-fiction readers.

thank you, NetGalley for a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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"The ways we recognize a musical score -by its scales, the repeating octaves- is similar to the way we recall grief. A musical scale can transport us to another time and place, as if the music has always lived inside us, and like the notes that bring music out of our bodies, one grief recalls another. Each new sadness dips into the well of the rest, carrying the old grief with the new."

Animal Bodies is a collection of essays detailing the life experiences and vulnerabilities of the author, Suzanne Roberts. The chronological order of the essays set out a timeline for the reader to follow the events in the author's life. The use of humor to combat dark themes speed the reading along and made it enjoyable. The personal aspects of the text forced me to read until the very end. I cannot wait to see what else the author releases.
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A meditative look on loss and grief, this memoir was, sadly, very relatable. I will be recommending it to anyone who reads memoirs but also anyone looking to explore their emotions after the weirdness of these past few years.
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A truly stunning exploration of grief, loss, desire, and love that had me both laughing and crying. A painful yet beautiful memoir.
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First and foremost, I'd like to thank University of Nebraska Press for gifting me this lovely copy of Suzanne Roberts's Animal Bodies. I was drawn to it thanks to the gorgeous cover on NetGalley, and jumped at the opportunity to review a physical copy when it was offered to me. I enjoy the convenience of reading ebooks on my iPad Mini, but would always prefer the satisfaction of flipping through paper pages (and using an actual bookmark 😉).

Animal Bodies is a collection of essays on death, desire, and other difficulties. I love how the Oxford comma is utilised on the cover; iykyk. I also love the prose contained within, how each chapter is branded with the author's own style and laments. It takes a lot of courage to write about difficult and important edifices in your life, and to do it in a creative way instead of the bog-standard "dear diary, this and this happened and it made me sad" makes it so much more enjoyable to read. 

And as with all non-fiction, I didn't read this in one go and instead really took my time, by reading one or two short chapters a day. (FYI, it took me 28 days to finish reading this. Granted, I was oscillating between 6 other books, so...)

Standouts are "Becoming Bird", where Roberts likens episodes in her life with certain birds; "Friending the Dead", where she struggles to forgive a recently deceased man who sexually tormented her when she was a child; and so much more. To be honest, I really liked every single chapter, for they each had their own agenda and, perhaps, if you read into them more deeply, a moral.
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Animal Bodies was a very personal book to me and I honestly feel like the whole world can connect with this book with everything that has happened in the past 2 years. I love how Roberts touches on the topics such as death, desire, and other difficult things in life. This book shows how no matter what you go through there’s ways to get through it and you don’t necessarily have to do it alone. This book is going to make you feel like it’s okay to grieve BECAUSE IT IS AND ITS TOTALLY NORMAL TO DO THAT. And that it’s okay to reflect on time and that you never have to rush your grievances. It’ll make you understand what you or someone you might know is going through and how reading this Roberts went through this on her own yet we can all connect on it.
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"The ways we recognize a musical score -by its scales, the repeating octaves- is similar to the way we recall grief. A musical scale can transport us to another time and place, as if the music has always lived inside us, and like the notes that bring music out of our bodies, one grief recalls another. Each new sadness dips into the well of the rest, carrying the old grief with the new."

3.5 ✨

Animal Bodies by Suzanne Roberts is a collection of essays split in three parts: Death, Desire, and Other Difficulties. My favorite part was the first and probably read all essays included within a couple of days. The second part on desire was my least favorite even though it was deeply honest and the last part included a mix of stories that often touched on themes of death and desire. 

The essays included in Animal Bodies are chronicled through various timelines and touch on Suzanne Roberts' loss of her father, mother, and dog, but also on her divorce, travels, and friendships. 

This was my first encounter with Suzanne Roberts and various of the themes discussed in her essays (such as feminism, sexual assault, loss, nature, and childfree lives) are among my top interests when I'm reading such collections and especially nonfiction. But a few times while reading I wasn't sure that I actually liked the author that much which made me disconnect a bit. 

However, I found some comfort in her writing about grief and related to how complex our feelings and emotions towards our parents can be even after their loss. 

"Without love there is no grief."

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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I'm glad that NetGalley introduced me to this wonderful book of short stories, which discusses grief, desire, and other difficulties. I am glad that I got learn about how different people deal with the death of loved ones, especially those who lost their parents and are now dealing with grief. My least favorite section of the book is called Desire. While I enjoyed seeing how divorced couples loved before separating, it was strange seeing this is what the author wrote for the word desire. The last section focused on a couple whose marriage was falling apart and it was an excellent section to end on. While it's sad that their marriage didn't last, I'm glad to hear of the woman's adventures in Vietnam and Colombia.
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This was a lovely poetic memoir about death, relationships, and travel. The essays/chapters ranged from grieving her parents to losing close friends over political differences to debating abortion with strangers on the street. I could tell from the beginning that Roberts is also a poet and it made the process of reading really nice. It did take me a while to get through, but I think that’s just because a lot of the topics were heavy. I thoroughly cried and had to take a break after “The Last Goodbye” about her dog, Riva. Overall, I would definitely recommend this as a wonderful reflection on the things we lose in life whether from family, pets, friends, and relationships, to ways of enjoying life (like traveling, when discovering the realities of tourism).
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Oh boy. This did not sit well with me.
Maybe I read it at the wrong time or maybe I don't find some of the topics interesting.
The thing is, it had such a great marvelous start even tho the topics were not happy or uplifting. The writing at that point was transcending me into the pages. And then it all went downhill. I felt like I was getting a bunch of random traveling stories and which husband was the worst game. I can respect that all of the essays were very personal but i really really wasn't looking for that. Maybe someone will.
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Animal Bodies by  Suzanne Roberts  was a collection of essays that started quite strong, impressively so such that I was looking forward eagerly to the next piece.  But the essays began to weaken for me about a third of the way in and never really recovered, with a number of the second half pieces just garnering an “OK” or worse in my margin notes and some feeling a bit “filler.”.  The early essays delivered several nice metaphors on grief, but the metaphors and language became less original soon after and though I finished the book, it became a struggle to continue past the halfway point. That said, I do recommend checking the book out of a library and reading at least the first few.
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Sensitive and even taboo topics are addressed in a somewhat different way in this fascinating book, comprising essays on the subject matter from a very personal perspective.  The writing style is incredibly powerful and moving, leaving me wanting to see what the author can do with a full length novel format.  Readers will be challenged and engaged as they read this almost confronting analysis of grief and humanity.
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memoir in essay, a meditation on grief, loss, love, and life. I wanted to love this book because of the cover, but I didn't love this at all. Some essays came across as thoughtful and emotional, while others came across as lackluster. There were moments where the author came across as privileged and looking for reasons to be unhappy while the reader is left with cringe feelings. The book was written well, but each essay did not connect the way I wanted them to and I couldn't find the string that pulls the connection together.
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I'd like to thank NetGalley and the University of Nebraska Press for giving me this ARC!

warnings for: parental death, rape, prostitution, animal abuse and animal death.

I have complicated feelings about this collection. It starts out extremely strong, in more ways than one, with a series of essays exploring death and grief, as experienced by the author. These are pieces that I could easily see myself giving 4-5 stars, not only because they moved me personally but also because they gave me something to think about.

"These bodies die, but we spend much of our time pretending otherwise. We are too far from death until we are too close. Then we have no way to talk about it."

It's the later parts of the collection where things get a bit confusing for me. The rest of the essays explore a wide variety of things-ranging from her husband's colonoscopy to her relationship with her late mother-and it's just extremely jarring the way there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the order in which you're made to read them. Like girl, why are moving from back-to-back thought-provoking essays about the sexual exploitation of young women to ??? your evidently long history with vegetarianism or whatever.

It just felt like I was reading two different books at once. One written by a person who has been through considerable grief and trauma, and another written by a basic white woman who's just discovered the "dark side" of the tourism industry. This generally isn't the kind of authorial range I'm looking for, though I guess I do appreciate the willingness to be so honest.

I'd also like to address what I'm gonna call the whitest of her essays, most of them pertaining to her overseas travels and this one essay that talked about her falling out with a Republican friend. I think the biggest problem this collection faces has to do with audience. Death and desire are universal and, at first glance, environmental devastation seems to be much the same. Surely, someone looking to read about grief and/or sexuality should also be able to relate to everything else she writes about.

But do I, as an Indian, really want to read about a white woman bemoaning the fact that tourism industries in South Asian and South East Asian countries are highly entrenched in animal abuse, without really addressing whose demands shape these industries in the first place? Would anyone who isn't white and cishet relate to an entire essay detailing the immense difficulty the author faced in breaking off her friendship with someone who not only believes that teachers in America should be given guns but also that Trump should have gone through with that damn wall?

This is not to say that I don't hold some amount of empathy for her. I believe that she genuinely had a hard time coming to term with both these things, and she does display some amount of self-awareness regarding her position as a white woman. I just think it's bewildering to have such specific experiences included in a collection about otherwise universal sentiments. I can only speak for myself but I would much rather have had her exclude these essays and spare me the white guilt.

"I hear a British man say, "America has had so many puppets." I want to say the French built these prisons [...] I want to say that though the British stayed out of this particular war, they have done their share of holding the strings."

Like girl, what is this. The colonisation olympics? Anyway, I have to keep reminding myself how good the good parts were, which is why I'm giving it 3.5, but let it be known that the bad parts are worth 2 stars at most. The worst of them should have just been left out altogether.
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Animal Bodies is a collection of autobiographical essays on Roberts' personal losses - from the loss of her parents, of her beloved dog, friendships, relationships, and to gun violence and wildfires. The collection has all the markings of a great and devastating read (and it succeeded at times) but for the most part it fell flat for me. Sometimes there are autobiographical books that feel like a very cathartic writing experience for the author but lacks a certain staying power and unfortunately Animal Bodies falls into that category for me.
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Lyrical, vulnerable and raw, Roberts' memoir-in-essays is a window into the complicated emotions of what it means to be human.
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Memoirs are definitely becoming my favorite genre, there’s something deeply compelling about someone telling their own story and Animal Bodies is no exception. The major theme on this book is grief and the author is very insightful on her process of dealing with different types of loss. Losing a parent, a friendship, an estranged friend or a pet are different experiences but they also feed on each other and I particularly liked how Suzanne Roberts connects them.  This is the first work I read of her, but I will definitely check out what else she has done. 
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with the arc on this wonderful book!
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This book was a very welcome surprise, and entirely not what I thought it would be about. It definitely covers the topics in the title, but in a very different way to how I expected.

For starters, the topics above appear as if they would lend themselves to a slow, reflective book. If anything, parts of this book go at a break-neck speed. That is not to fault the writing at all, but rather is one of its strengths- Suzanne Roberts can write, and often hits her stride with a story that just unspools in layers of conversation, meaning and imagery almost breathlessly.

Similarly, this book feels deeply personal and vulnerable, really pushing to the absolute borders of what most share, and then traversing beyond it. We cover her parents' mortality, the death of animals, painful memories of former relationships, and lighter moments of her current life, with the anxieties that lurk beneath.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The lyrical prose in this book is like the book equivalent being hypnotized. Once I started reading this book I couldn't stop!
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