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The Long Weeping: Portrait Essays

by Jessie van Eerden

Winner of the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Essays


196 pp.  / paper  /  $18.00
Orison Books
ISBN: 978-0-9964397-5-6
Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
1-800-901-3480 /
Publication Date: November 7, 2017





In this collection of portraits, the eye is the vital “lamp of the body,” a spiritual organ van Eerden uses to craft essays that are as much encounters as they are likenesses, as much being seen as seeing. Historical subjects like Simone Weil and the Beguines confront the author’s imaginative and intellectual being, while the viscerally close foci of family and a lost marriage must also be reckoned with. The author’s religious tradition and the rural landscape of Terra Alta, West Virginia are two backgrounds that are neither chosen nor fully understood, but van Eerden’s attention to these matters becomes its own form of devotion, a longing to see and to believe—the longing itself taking on the robustness of faith. This is the common goal of these essays, to fully meet each subject and return to it some form of wholeness, a quest full of lush imagery and insights.





“Van Eerden’s fundamentalist religious upbringing is recognized, not despised, as a vital part of her past, even as she moves into larger spiritual circles. Humility, warmth, and charm underscore the collection’s darker brushes with death, divorce, and self-doubt. Essays extend an invitation to peer through van Eerden’s particular window, which reveals the commonality of humanity despite differing circumstances. Traversing the full range of human experiences with grace, The Long Weeping insists that solace awaits on the other side of even the blackest tumult, if only it can be perceived and grasped.”

 –Foreword Reviews, starred review


“Van Eerden sidles into her Appalachian past carrying Simone Weil on her shoulders and her own grit between her toes, ‘speaking out of fury, knowing that fury can have the same source as love.’ […] Van Eerden may be working out her faith, awash in fear and trembling, through these essays, leaving the unanswerable questions unanswered but reckoned with through lyric.”

Sarah WellsRiver Teeth


“[I]n The Long Weeping the motifs are intentional, controlled, revelatory, and unexpected.”

Caitlin EthertonBlackbird


“Van Eerden is one of the best essayists working today if judged by her craft and intellect alone, but her gifts go beyond those: she is also one of the most honest. The Long Weepingturns a visionary eye and a laser mind on subjects often simplified or even scorned by contemporary culture: white poverty, mysticism, love of family, the wisdom of modest people. Van Eerden is brave enough to say the hard things. She’s strong enough to love the hard places.”

Ann Pancake, author of Given Ground and Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley


“In these startlingly honest and imaginative essays, ​van Eerden enlarges the world around her, giving flesh to what is all too often flattened by the outside eye, anointing plac