The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

An exquisite memoir about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room,” from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air.“We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.”Nina Riggs was just thirty-seve...

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Title:The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying
Author:Nina Riggs
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying Reviews

  • Text Publishing

    The Bright Hour

    The Bright Hour

    The Bright Hour

    The Bright Hour

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    ‘The Bright Hour

     

    The Bright Hour

    When Breath Becomes Air,

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    The Bright Hour

  • Rebecca Foster

    A natural successor, or partner, to

    , with which it shares beautiful prose and a literary/philosophical approach to terminal cancer. It’s a wonderful book, so wry and honest, with a voice that reminds me of Anne Lamott and Elizabeth McCracken. And there is an amazing epilogue to these real-life losses: Riggs’ widower and Paul Kalanithi’s widow are now an item! (See

    .)

    It started with a tiny spot of cancer in the breast. “No one dies from one small spot,” Nina Ri

    A natural successor, or partner, to

    , with which it shares beautiful prose and a literary/philosophical approach to terminal cancer. It’s a wonderful book, so wry and honest, with a voice that reminds me of Anne Lamott and Elizabeth McCracken. And there is an amazing epilogue to these real-life losses: Riggs’ widower and Paul Kalanithi’s widow are now an item! (See

    .)

    It started with a tiny spot of cancer in the breast. “No one dies from one small spot,” Nina Riggs and her husband told themselves. Until it wasn’t just a spot but a larger tumor that required a mastectomy. And then there was the severe back pain that alerted them to metastases in her spine, and later in her lungs. Riggs was a great-great-great-granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and she quotes from her ancestor’s essays as well as from Michel de Montaigne’s philosophy of life to bring things into perspective for herself. Indeed, the title quote is from Emerson’s journal in 1838: “That is morning; to cease for a bright hour to be a prisoner of this sickly body, and to become as large as the World.”

    Riggs started out as a poet, and you can tell. She’s an expert at capturing the moments that make life alternately euphoric and unbearable – sometimes both at once. Usually these moments are experienced with family: her tough mother, who died after nine years with multiple myeloma, providing her with a kind of “morbid test drive” for her own death; and her husband and their two precocious sons. Whether she’s choosing an expensive couch, bringing home a puppy, or surprising her sons with a trip to Universal Studios, she’s always engaged in life. You never get a sense of resignation or despair. The book is even funny, making you smile through the pain.

    Nina Riggs died at the age of 39 on February 23, 2017.

  • John Duberstein

    I would like to say my five star review is rooted in my own literary acumen and this particular book's compelling, beautiful, almost lyric prose. And the book is filled with beauty, lyric and profane. But since it was written by my wife, I feel like I have to come clean and say I'd be giving her five stars regardless, because I loved her more than anything. I love my kids a TON. They're amazing little guys, my favorite living people in the whole world, and I'd literally lay down in Boston traffi

    I would like to say my five star review is rooted in my own literary acumen and this particular book's compelling, beautiful, almost lyric prose. And the book is filled with beauty, lyric and profane. But since it was written by my wife, I feel like I have to come clean and say I'd be giving her five stars regardless, because I loved her more than anything. I love my kids a TON. They're amazing little guys, my favorite living people in the whole world, and I'd literally lay down in Boston traffic for them. But I'd swap them every day of the week for Nina. Sorry guys. Twice on Sundays. (Why Boston? Well, it may not be the worst traffic, but I think it's maybe got the drivers with the most mens rea of any city I've ever been to.).

    Seeing the book come together, getting to witness the transition from idea, to concept, to manuscript, now to nearly final publication, has been a treat not only because of the publication itself, but how much its helped me and my family focus on the important things Nina left us. Her talent, her wit, charm, beauty, and her complete refusal to let terminal disease ruin the few bright days she had left after her cancer ran wild. The Bright Hour will be a tremendous legacy for our two boys as they grow and learn to live with their loss, and anytime they want access to Nina, a huge part of her will be right there on the page. But I also hope as many people as possible will share in that legacy and get to know Nina as well as anyone can now that she's gone. And not just because of the loss at such a young age, but because of the amazing person she was and the tremendous talent she had for sharing her vision for leading a good life, even under the shadow of terminal disease. Trust me: She was the absolute best and it comes through beautifully here in The Bright Hour.

  • Drew Perry

    Nina Riggs was a dear friend and a writer so sharp and insistent and unflinching it made everyone who read her work feel like they might not be living quite hard enough. Here's why nobody ought to read a friend's review: we're all grieving her loss so intensely that nobody can see quite right any more. Here's why everybody ought to read this book anyway: Nina achieved something in the last year of her life that most of us only dream of, which is to say, she made something truly beautiful from th

    Nina Riggs was a dear friend and a writer so sharp and insistent and unflinching it made everyone who read her work feel like they might not be living quite hard enough. Here's why nobody ought to read a friend's review: we're all grieving her loss so intensely that nobody can see quite right any more. Here's why everybody ought to read this book anyway: Nina achieved something in the last year of her life that most of us only dream of, which is to say, she made something truly beautiful from the chaos of her everyday life. That her everyday life eventually meant an aggressively metastasizing cancer that she managed not just to write through but well beyond -- that's not just triumph but actual here-and-now miracle.

    This is a book about loving your kids and your spouse and your dogs even when it's hard to; about loving them unabashedly when you get to; about trying to reckon with a disease that cares nothing about time or space or last chances or any of the other ephemera that glue days together; about Montaigne and Emerson and a tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts that serves as a kind of touchstone and home base any reader will recognize; about the landscape of neighborhoods; about backyards and cocktails and stolen hours and friendships and families. It's about adolescence and parenthood and cosmopolitan Paris and suburban stateside dinner parties. It's about diagnosis and hope and reckoning. Mainly, though, it's a deeply honest reminder that none of us have all the time we'd wish for, and a quiet -- if fierce -- suggestion that we pay close, close attention to the time we do have.

    My heart's not just broken because Nina was my friend. My heart is broken by the book itself -- in some complicated, awful ways, but in the very best of ways, too. This is what we want of the best of books: to read them, and to be unable to go about our lives as we had before.

  • BookBully

    So. I was not prepared to collapse into this book like I did. My friends know I'm not a huge memoir fan and often I find books of this nature fall into the "pity me" category. But, oh, Nina Riggs. How you captured my interest and pulled me along with you!

    Yes, this is a cancer book. Yes, it's sad and scary and, especially for mothers, frightening at times. Do not let that stop you from experiencing the gorgeous, unique prose from this bright, funny, marvelous woman. Often I felt as if the author

    So. I was not prepared to collapse into this book like I did. My friends know I'm not a huge memoir fan and often I find books of this nature fall into the "pity me" category. But, oh, Nina Riggs. How you captured my interest and pulled me along with you!

    Yes, this is a cancer book. Yes, it's sad and scary and, especially for mothers, frightening at times. Do not let that stop you from experiencing the gorgeous, unique prose from this bright, funny, marvelous woman. Often I felt as if the author was snuggled up next to me on my couch, recounting her story as we sipped drinks and made our way through a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies. I think many a reader will feel they knew Nina and, like me, are already missing her.

    My heart goes out to Nina's husband, her two sons, her family and friends. Yet I hope they are immensely proud of this book. What a tremendous gift!

  • Elyse

    “Do they have book club in the afterlife?”

    “I love you” ......

    “I love you” ....

    “I love you”..... “these are the things we say now after book club” .....

    “Why didn’t we say them before?”

    Nina Riggs was 38 years of age when she was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer.

    This is the memoir she wrote before she died at the age of 39. It all started with one spot found on her breast. A dot!

    Nina writes about having cancer - treatments -radioactive dye- bone scans- warm blankets - etc.- her family (hu

    “Do they have book club in the afterlife?”

    “I️ love you” ......

    “I️ love you” ....

    “I️ love you”..... “these are the things we say now after book club” .....

    “Why didn’t we say them before?”

    Nina Riggs was 38 years of age when she was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer.

    This is the memoir she wrote before she died at the age of 39. It all started with one spot found on her breast. A dot!

    Nina writes about having cancer - treatments -radioactive dye- bone scans- warm blankets - etc.- her family (husband and two sons) - she writes about the new dog they bought - her love of poetry - literature - ( having been a teacher), vacations, basketball, book club, music, therapy, her mother’s cancer, friends, nature, humor, TV shows, ‘touch’ with her husband, words of gifts, ....from the power of prayer ....

    Nina, a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, found comfort in reading his work and also the philosopher Michael de Montaigne. These quotes were beautiful.

    This is another book about cancer. Nina does die. — but THIS IS NOT JUST ANOTHER ONE of *THOSE* books.....as if there isn’t incredibly life-altering ways of looking at life - living - and death.

    It’s another book that is teaching us about dying. I️ liked how Nina connects a relationship between pilgrims and death.

    — This book is not written with a depressing slant. It’s still sad that Nina dies.

    *Nina* explores many of the same questions that Paul Kalanithi explored in “When Breath Becomes Air”...” what makes life worth living in the face of death?”

    The poetry readings come through lovely on the audiobook.

    Audio-Narrator, Cassandra Campbell is excellent as the reader of this book.

    Books like these DO MAKE US APPRECIATE LIFE.

    Nina Riggs made a great contribution writing this memoir before she died.

    Blessings to her husband and children.

  • Ammar

    I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book.

    I was impressed it was in Hardcover. I loved the cream coloured jacket with what looked like bath bombs that you can get from Lush.

    This is a terrific memoir with a very strong start. The chapters are small. In some instances they are just a paragraph.

    The book is divided into 4 stages .. the same way cancer is categorized.

    Nina Riggs takes us on a journey into her life.. her past and her present and her hopes for the fu

    I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book.

    I was impressed it was in Hardcover. I loved the cream coloured jacket with what looked like bath bombs that you can get from Lush.

    This is a terrific memoir with a very strong start. The chapters are small. In some instances they are just a paragraph.

    The book is divided into 4 stages .. the same way cancer is categorized.

    Nina Riggs takes us on a journey into her life.. her past and her present and her hopes for the future. A mixture of laughter and tears. Smiles and depression. We get to know her husband John and her two kids. And her mom who is dying from cancer and eventually dies before Nina.

    She is a descendent of Emerson. So there is a good bit about Emerson, Walden, his quotes, lifestyle and love of nature. There is also a bit of Montaigne in this book too. I feel like Montaigne has been creeping a lot lately in memoirs in the past few years.

    This memoir will hit a cord with a lot of people, and will in my opinion prove popular with the readers.

  • Samantha Price

    Nina is diagnosed with breast cancer ("no one dies from one tiny spot"), and her disease later progresses to stage IV (in her lungs). This is her memoir on living with cancer, thoughts on death and dying, and comment on life. With my own Stage IV diagnosis, I thought it would be easy to find myself in Nina's story but for some reason I couldn't connect. I skimmed most of the last half. There were punishing moments where she brought me to tears (for example, when her husband wakes her in the nigh

    Nina is diagnosed with breast cancer ("no one dies from one tiny spot"), and her disease later progresses to stage IV (in her lungs). This is her memoir on living with cancer, thoughts on death and dying, and comment on life. With my own Stage IV diagnosis, I thought it would be easy to find myself in Nina's story but for some reason I couldn't connect. I skimmed most of the last half. There were punishing moments where she brought me to tears (for example, when her husband wakes her in the night to say "I'm so scared I can't breathe"), however even against the beautiful writing I found it too fancy for me. The writing, the stories, the constant reference to Emerson (a distant relative) and Montaigne - I just couldn't connect. Not a criticism, as this is her memoir and her life, it just didn't affect me as it so clearly has for others.

  • Kaytee Bole

    I appreciated the conversational and honest writing style and the short, vignette-like chapters. What really took away from the book for me were the constant reminders to all of us that she was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as frequently bringing up the philosopher Montaigne. A little excerpt here and there would have been fine, but here it felt excessive.

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