I wondered what insights might be found in Beth Ann Fennelly’s Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs. I am enchanted from the first selection, “Married Love.” In but a few lines, Fennelly captures the essence, the heart of a marriage. (Not to worry, there are more to savor: “Married Love I-V”). I am caught in the warmth and tenderness of her prose, shared memories filled with quiet joy, an appreciation for everything (and everybody) around her, even a bittersweet celebration in a moment as in “Another Reason I Love My Mother.” In this selection, the reader can imagine the eccentricities of a mother: “At the baby shower, she rejects the pink M&Ms, because pink M&Ms are unnatural.”
This collection is an extraordinary gift to Fennelly’s readers, sharing bits of memory, so achingly honest that I go from laughter to tears and back again, delving into my own memories before they slip away. Though the memories in the collection are personal, they speak to Everywoman--and those men who savor them--each memoir filled with details, the colors of a life lived fully, the varied shades of love and loss, the tiny spaces in her heart (where there is always room for more).
There are moments between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, awkward exchanges as adolescent girls grow impatient to leave home, only to recognize these same experiences when another generation is called on to release a child into the world. Each memory is unique, a garden of words matching the seasons of life, people known and loved. Fennelly’s offerings are intimate, generous, never coy or facetious, exquisitely rendered. Family is everywhere remembered, some gone, none forgotten, love, laughter, loss and celebration in equal measure.
Heating and Cooling is a wonderful collection, fifty-two memories to treasure, a reminder that every day is new. Sometimes I will pick up this lovely little book because it softens and validates me, most often because it simply makes me happy.