On the occasion of Pacific Northwest writer Charles D’Ambrosio’s new book of essays, Loitering, slated for November release from Tin House, we’re recommending “Documents,” a piece D’Ambrosio contributed to The New Yorker in 2002, and which is included in Loitering. The essay, a delicate yet devastating memoir in fragments, is partially composed of passages culled from letters sent between the author, his father, and brothers, in the troubled years before and after the suicide of D’Ambrosio’s youngest brother Danny. Revisiting a 1986 letter from Danny, D’Ambrosio writes,
I read the pages he wrote two or three times a month, often enough so that the words ring like the lines of poems I know well. All the struggle is still there in the headlong sentences that tumble toward his signature, in the misspelled words and syntactical errors, in the self-conscious language of a boy starved for love and trying, instead, to live a moment more off pride.
Pulitzer and National Book Award finalist Adam Haslett, assessing the essay in a star-studded seven-way review of Loitering for D’Ambrosio’s hometown weekly, Seattle’s The Stranger, writes,
In “Documents,” D’Ambrosio needs to talk about the impossible, and he does, brilliantly and heartbreakingly. There isn’t a single word out of place in this piece about the relationship between love and words. It is fiercely precise.