This collection of essays is about people. My people. In the midst of a pandemic, I am even more aware of the importance of my people— and time. There are friends I consider family who live in Europe and I have no idea when I will be allowed to see them again. There is family in the south and I long for their company. There is a biological relation who I will never see again. There are mentors who literally changed my life, and students whose impact never left. There are New Yorkers and Floridians, and there is immeasurable loss. What you get to take with you when you leave this earth is the following: what you did, how you lived, who you loved, who loved you. All the people that made you — for better or worse — who you are. People matter. To me. People matter, and time: the finite time you have with your people, and the finite time they have with you.
About the Author
Lisa del Rosso originally trained as a classical singer and completed a post-graduate program at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), living and performing in London before moving to New York City. Her plays “Clare’s Room,” and “Samaritan,” have been performed off-Broadway and had public readings, while “St. John,” her third play, was a semi-finalist for the 2011 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Barking Sycamores Neurodivergent Literature, Razor’s Edge Literary Magazine, Sowing Creek Press, The Literary Traveler, Serving House Journal, VietnamWarPoetry, Young Minds Magazine (London/UK), Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, The Chillfiltr Review, The Neue Rundschau (Germany), Jetlag Café (Germany), and One Magazine (London/UK), for whom she writes theater reviews. Her first book, a hybrid memoir, Confessions of an Accidental Professor, was published in 2018, and she had the pleasure of being interviewed about the book by Brian Lehrer on his WNYC radio program. She is the recipient of a 2018 NYU College of Arts & Sciences Teaching Award, where she currently teaches writing. In 2019, she was awarded a New York Writers Workshop scholarship to Sardinia.
del Rosso navigates the sense of the split between our veneer of wholeness and completion that people see compared to the internal sense of fragmentedness that we so often feel.
—William Christopher Brown, Ph.D., Professor of English and Technical Writing, Dept. Co-Chair of English and Language Arts, Midland College.
At the turn of the first millennium in Heian Period Japan, Sei Shōnagon wrote The Pillow Book, a hybrid collection of musings, lists, anecdotes, poems and descriptions, connected only by the authentic and lyric dailyness of their observations; Lisa del Rosso’s You Are All a Part of Me, is a pillow book for the next millennium. Consisting of dramatic interludes, emails, found text, fair itineraries, travelogues, and canny essays, this book is connected by the absurd tragedy of quotidian city life. The author’s voice is at turns wry, romantic, urbane, grieving, and very much shaped by the modern sensibility of someone who has had to live with an ex- to save money on rent and persevere to make art. Her list of difficult men include a father, Jimmie the Jeweler, and King Lear; and through her keen eyes, we see a Confederate cemetery in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Edward Albee auditioning actresses for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and Nora Ephron being conjured in the sleeveless sheath of a gray dress. Evoking those larger lights, Lisa del Rosso casts her own beam over the peaks and valleys of her past, illuminating vivid moments of awe and agony that resonate with remembrance.
—Ravi Shankar, Pushcart Prize winning author of 15 books, including the forthcoming memoir Correctional
If you read this book–and you really should!–you will encounter characters worthy of a classic film, mordant wit, insightful observations about the beauty and absurdity of life, all wrapped up in del Rosso’s generous and thoughtful prose.
—Stephen Policoff, author of Come Away (Dzanc Books 2014)
del Rosso rarely fails to deliver a nugget of wisdom or a wisecrack that resonates in the essays on the myriad ways friends become family, often entirely by chance, say a shared flat, a stray cat, or a newspaper ad answered at a subway stop. Other relationships seem to spring from life decisions that seem defy all logic (Imagine how best friends might include both a man you decided never to date and a man you divorced but never stopped loving.) These stories combine strong character sketches with well-told anecdotes and offer insights that are often both laugh-out-loud funny and poignant.
“The Difficult Men section is not, as a reader might expect, about boyfriends, but about difficult men who del Rosso has come to know through blood, through friendship and through random chance – like, for example, the Vietnam vet who lives in a treehouse with his arsenal and his cache of jewels in Provincetown, Mass, and hands her a folder full of stories with no punctuation and no real spelling. In the finale, she explores heartbreak when after her parents divorced, her father “moved his heart away from me.” These stories are her real gems.
—Lise Olsen, Senior Writer and Editor at The Texas Observer
What a delight to be inside the head of Lisa del Rosso in this open-hearted exploration of her life, her ideas, her travels. Beginning with formative childhood experiences in some accidental address, running through developmental incidents and Hugely Important Decisions, it’s a breeze to read—serious and funny at the same time, like a gangster cleaning his fingernails with the blade that may or may not wind up between your ribs. It’s one of those hard-to-categorize hybrids that probably fits best under the memoir-in-essays banner. Stylistically and structurally, there’s nothing she doesn’t try. Poetry, eulogy, text messages, veritable transcripts of group therapy sessions. “All the sounds of the earth are like music” unfolds like a tale out of Dickens. “Jimmie the Jeweler” begins on Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA, then takes a left turn off a left turn and suddenly you’re in Yusef Komunyakaa/Vietnam veteran purgatory (in verse). The exhilarating freedom in the structures gets you moving with increasing velocity and you don’t even notice there’s no longer any ground beneath your feet until you’re well off the cliff. The thing is, del Rosso is with you, providing indelible description, crackling dialogue, and hard-won wisdom tempered with heart. Her thematic range is encompassing: family, love, loss, death, friendship, gratitude, renewal. By book’s end, she is a part of you.
—Tim Tomlinson, author of Requiem for the Tree Fort I Set on Fire (poetry) and This Is Not Happening to You (short fiction). He is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop and a professor in NYU’s Global Liberal Studies.
Lisa del Rosso’s memoir-in-essays, You Are All a Part of Me, meanders with intelligence and verve from family and friends to lovers and troubles, on journeys undertaken both around the globe and into the personal interior. Reading these essays is like sitting down with a wise, funny friend who has great stories to tell, “bracing, like a dip in the Atlantic in March.” This book is delicious and full of surprises, like “potent homemade wine” from Sardinia, served in tiny plastic cups on the Feast of St. Anthony. Enjoy.
—Moira Egan, author of Synæsthesium
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