Cover Image: The Book of Grief and Hamburgers

The Book of Grief and Hamburgers

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Member Reviews

‘The Book of Grief and Hamburgers’ is the audiobook of Canadian poet Stuart Ross’s literary work of the same name. Blending elements of essay, memoir, and poetic introspection, Ross delves into the profound themes of mortality and grief in this hybrid composition. Crafted during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the book bears witness to Ross's personal journey following the sudden loss of his brother and the impending demise of his closest friend. As the sole surviving member of his family, Ross explores the intricate landscape of mourning and grapples with the challenges of carrying on amidst profound loss.

His unique approach to tackling grief in this conversational and darkly humorous essay is both refreshing and thought-provoking. He defies the weight of despair and engages in a poignant conversation that embraces the tender aspects of his relationships with loved ones. Through his introspection, Ross offers relief to readers who have encountered their own struggles with grief during the pandemic or the accumulative weight of aging. ‘The Book of Grief and Hamburgers’ has been celebrated for its unwavering authenticity and resilience, providing comfort for those who have experienced similar emotions.

Ross has a remarkable ability to infuse his reading with the appropriate tonalities, inflections, and intonations, enhancing the meaning and impact of his writing. He paints vivid pictures, conjuring imagery that stimulates the imagination and transports his audience to the very heart of his work.

A highly accomplished writer, Stuart Ross has an impressive repertoire of 20 published books spanning various genres such as fiction, poetry, and essays. His literary contributions have been recognized with prestigious awards, including the 2019 Harbourfront Festival Prize, the 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, and the 2010 ReLit Award for Short Fiction. Ross's works have transcended language barriers, having been translated into multiple languages, including French, Spanish, and Russian. Currently residing in Coburg, Ontario, Ross continues to captivate readers with his profound insights and distinctive literary voice.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the audiobook ARC!

The Book of Grief and Hamburgers feels very cathartic to read, and I'm sure it served that purpose as it was written. Anyone who has experienced grief will recognize that not everyone's grief or grieving looks the same. Hopefully this book can help others as much as it surely helped the author.

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I really wanted to like this more than I did. Part of the issue was definitely the narration for me. It felt a little too formulaic, instead of filling the space of the poetry. Being that it was the author providing the narration, I wanted to feel more emotion than I got out of the readings.

I also didn't care for the hamburgers. I understood the point of it and loved the concept behind it, but often it made me feel like the text was choppy or veering off course.

However, all of this is a personal reflection and my appreciation for and understanding of loss and grief is different than that of the authors. I did love Ross' ability to weave in these deeper feelings with memoir-style stories and anecdotes. It created an idea of who he was in my head and helped develop his "character" when it came to matching him to his words. I did find myself doing a lot of reflection after pieces too which I enjoyed, anything that makes me think feels like it's worth my time.

I wouldn't say that this would be something I'd turn back to again, but I definitely suggest it as a representation of grief. It's exploration of the topic, and avoidance of, provides an interesting perspective. A solid three stars, but only from a personal standpoint.

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Interesting and well written I just personally couldn’t get into the story. Definitely creepy. Just a little slow and weird at some points. Talking about grief and then randomly would throw in hamburger talk. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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I remember liking this audio when I finished. However illness, work and life happened. I sit here two weeks after I finished and honestly cannot remember a thing about it. I'm sad because I love poetry and remember thinking this was a well done poetry audio. I may end up rereading in the future. If so I'll update my review.

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As the title makes clear, this is a very unique book. It is an honest, vulnerable, poetic, and extremely personal work, in which Ross explores his compounded losses and his experience of grief. The book is so personal that at times it seemed suited to an intimate audience, not a general readership. But, the book offers bits of beauty and insight to all readers.

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As someone who enjoys poetry in all forms and understands the waves of grief, this book was a decent listen for me.

Nothing absolutely changed my soul, but it was still worth the listen. I guess that's fair when the topic of grief is at hand, because everyone experiences and voices grief differently. It wasn't my particular grief language.

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The book of grief and hamburgers is exactly what it says it will be. Ross reflects on his personal experiences with grief after a series of bereavements, and then inserts a hamburger to lighten the mood when things get too serious.

I will start by saying I am not this books target audience. I think you will get a great deal more out of this book than me if you are familiar with Ross’ previous work/ the work of those mentioned in the book/ are Canadian or American.

I found the first half of the book slightly disjointed and repetitive, with not much going beyond a poignant memory, followed up with a hamburger.

But I can kind of see the point of this. At the beginning, Ross is almost unable to talk about his grief, but in the second half his reflections become much more prolonged and intimate.

It is an examination of grief - what it means to grieve, whether you are doing it right, how to carry on.

It is sad, self-aware and challenging at times. Not one for everyone, but something I think those that are grieving would find a comfort.

Thank you to NetGalley, ECW Press Audio and Stuart Ross for allowing me to listen.

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I received this audiobook from NetGalley as an advanced listening copy (ALC). Thank you to NetGalley, ECW Press Audio, and Stuart Ross for allowing me to listen in exchange for my honest review.

I plan to review this audiobook with soft spoilers, so read at your own risk. My review style for audiobooks is to rate the book and the narration separately with the average being the final rating (i.e. a 3 star book with a 5 star narration= 4 star overall rating).

Stuart Ross narrates his own memoir and that is the way I prefer it most of the time. There’s an authenticity to a memoir that is exacerbated when it is read by the author. Even if the author isn’t the best at narrating their own story, the vulnerability that comes along with it makes it so much better.

Narration: 4/5 stars

Story Structure:
This is a poetic memoir/essay about Stuart Ross, his methods of writing poetry, and his use of “hamburgers” in his work when things are getting a bit too bogged down. The word “hamburger” invokes a chuckle that helps ease tension when a subject is too intense.

Story: 4/5 stars

This memoir is everything I want in one. It’s dryly funny, sarcastic, heartwarming, thought provoking, and tragic.

Overall rating: 4/5 stars

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I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook narrated by the author! THE BOOK OF GRIEF AND HAMBURGERS by Stuart Ross is an emotionally devastating yet humorous book as he shares his thoughts on losing friends and family. A whole book about grief is very heavy to read and I appreciated all the hamburgers thrown in to lighten the mood. I haven’t read any of his poetry before but I’m so curious to do so now after reading this book. This is a book I couldn’t read all at once but it’s always interesting to read how people deal with grief.

Thank you to ECW Audio via NetGalley for my ALC!

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I generally turn to poetry to feel my emotions, and that didn't happen here.

I've turned to a lot of poetry on grief as of late, in order to find some sort of healing or for a good therapeutic cry, and was hoping this would give me one of those two things. Instead, I was left feeling frustrated the author would get close to diving into those topics and then back away with something about hamburgers.

Ross self proclaims that when things get heavy, he inserts hamburgers for comedic relief and that told me I wasn't going to get what I came for.

While this might be enjoyable for some, but <i>The Book of Grief and Hamburgers</i> was not for me.

<i>Thank you ECW Press Audio, Stuart Ross, and NetGalley for an ALC in exchange for an honest review!</i>

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read "The Book of Grief and Other Hamburgers." I found the opening of the book compelling. I enjoyed the unexpected juxtaposition of grief and loss and lightness and "hamburgers." I had a hard time connecting with this text, however. I am not familiar with Ross' previous work, unfortunately. I think I would feel differently if I had read other work by Ross, or the authors he is grieving. I respect the art that Ross has created through his grief. While there are some elements of universality - grief, loss, survival - reading this felt a little bit like showing up at a party where you don't really know anybody. They seem great, but you just need more time to get to know them. Much respect to Ross and "The Book of Grief and Hamburgers." I'll try this again some time and maybe my perspective will shift/evolve a bit.

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This is a welcome audiobook release of Stuart Ross’ wonderful book, narrated by the author, in a succinct and enjoyable two and a bit hours.
Hamburgers have featured heavily in Ross’ poems over the years. Usually introduced, according to the poet himself, when emotions were running high and some levity was needed, they work overtime in this remarkable book.
In the mostly autobiographical, aptly-titled “The Book of Grief and Hamburgers”, Stuart Ross discusses vegetarianism, Jewishness, Kafka, hamburgers and even people called Hamburger, but mostly he writes about grief; grief following the death of his brother, (something I can relate to), the death of friends and about famous writers who wrote about grief….and hamburgers. A book-length essay, written in verses much like a long poem, the text flows easily, its length unnoticed or irrelevant, like a conversation with an old friend. Famous quotes from films and notable last words pepper the book, albeit after having been “hamburger-fied” (my word for having key words removed and replaced with “hamburger”. Drawings, family photos and poems by other poets also make poignant appearances.
If you hadn’t already guessed, this is a tough book. As it progresses, the reader gets the impression that Ross is using hamburgers as a “safe space” (to use a modern term) to avoid facing his grief. And there is a lot of it, as friend after friend contacts him to tell him they are either ill or already facing death. Being surrounded by death prompts him to consider suicide. Correctly identifying grief as more of a process of coming to terms, he invites the reader along for the ride. He asks difficult questions - what were his brothers’ last thoughts? Did they know they were dying? Questions that we have undoubtedly asked ourselves at such times.
Ross makes the profound and affecting observation that he is alive in a world where he will never talk with his parents or brothers again, and wishes he could not be alive himself. At one point he realises that he is procrastinating about facing his own grief in the book, but the reader is happy to stick with him, especially when it’s this well-written.
Stuart Ross narrates his own book with a pleasant clarity which is a joy to listen to, and he really brings the book to life. The more personal moments of the book are much more powerful when you hear Stuart talking about them.
This stunning work is a eulogy for those who have already passed, and a pained scream for connection with those who are still living. Cathartic, profound, remorseful and brilliant, “The Book of Grief and Hamburgers” is about grief and learning how to grieve, about seeing someone for what might be the last time, and as someone who has been very recently bereaved, at times the book is almost too much to bear. Anyone holding out for a happy ending will be disappointed, but as a way of working through grief this book is a therapy session that you’ll be glad you signed up for.

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"Inside a hamburger is too dark to read." -From The Book of Grief and Hamburgers

3 stars

This is a personal, disjointed collection, quite different than most poetry. The author hasn't really addressed their grief, and backs away before getting too deep into anything; demanding comic relief by substituting the word hamburger in for things. A lot. It creates a disconnect for the reader with the subject matter. I'm someone who cries at the drop of a hat for anything sad, but I made it through the whole thing with dry eyes because you never really sat with any feeling. A lot of choices made are painstakingly explained to the reader, like how they are using present tense because they wished the person was still alive. I wish the author trusted the intelligence of the reader more.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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