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Small Fires: Essays

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  38 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
This is a daughter’s story. In Small Fires, Julie Marie Wade recreates the landscape of her childhood with a lacemaker’s care, then turns that precise attention on herself. There are floating tea lights in the bath, coddled blossoms in the garden, and a mother straddling her teenage daughter’s back, astringent in hand, to better scrub her not-quite-presentable pores. And t ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published November 15th 2011 by Sarabande Books
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Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wade's second collection of essays continues to flirt with the line between fiction and nonfiction (although her imagined encounters with her family are now referred to as "parables," which suggests at least a difference in genre). Family is at the center of this collection, although more properly, it's the absence of family that takes that place. Wade writes brutally about her parents--not in the sense that she's overly cruel towards them, but certainly in the sense that she refuses to put even ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I sat down to begin this book, read a few chapters, and spent several hours with it to find myself finishing it. It was suggested to as an example of "speculative nonfiction." When this term was discussed, I had imagined it a little differently in my own writing, but Ward's use of this sub-genre is quite good considering her story and particularly because of her story. I believe it would be helpful for casual readers to be aware that some of this writing is a type of speculation.

As one reviewer
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Julie Marie Wade's collection of essays, Small Fires, is comprised of narratives about love, complex and often hurtful familial relationships, and secrets. The reader is guided through formative events in the author's life, each essay containing elements that inform the rest of the work, resulting in a cohesive (and heart-wrenching) collection. Wade navigates trauma and acceptance with clarity and grace.

A poignant and well-crafted collection.
Superstition Review
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Small Fires: Essays by Julie Wade captures the atmosphere of her youth well. We get to read her story in a way that makes us understand what her childhood was for her, and the impact of the people who were around her. They are not simply characters in her narrative but actual people, and she makes that distinction in her writing. Above all else, she is self-aware and we see the introspective thoughts she has as she recollects her youth.

Review by Dennise Garcia
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
An excellent example of the variety of what one can do with nonfiction and the essay form. These essays are intensely personal and sometimes even uncomfortable, but worth reading. They take you into what it might be like to be a different child than the one your parents expected. For Wade, that difference has to do with homosexuality and all the "differences" that come with it, as her parents see it and as she felt it. But it's a book with practical applications for anyone who feels different, b ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it
These essays explore the places where love and conflict collide. They were really lovely, but some moved me more than others.
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Born in Seattle in 1979, Julie Marie Wade completed a Master of Arts in English at Western Washington University in 2003, a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, and a PhD in Humanities at the University of Louisville in 2012. She has received the Chicago Literary Award in Poetry (2004), the Gulf Coast Nonfiction Prize (2004), the Oscar Wilde Poetry Prize (2005), t ...more