Under My Bed and Other Essays


Under My Bed and Other Essays

Jody Keisner

American Lives Series

240 pages


September 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Jody Keisner was raised in rural Nebraska towns by a volatile father and kind but passive mother. As a young adult living alone for the first time, she began a nighttime ritual of checking under her bed each night, not sure who she was afraid of finding. An intruder? A monster? Her father? Keisner’s fears mature as she becomes a wife and mother, and the boogeyman under the bed shape-shifts, though its shapes are no less frightening—a young aunt’s drowning, the “chest chomp” in the classic horror movie The Thing, a diagnosis of a chronic autoimmune disease, the murder of a young college student, an eccentric grandmother’s belief in reincarnation and her dying advice: “Don’t be afraid.”

In Under My Bed and Other Essays, Jody Keisner searches for the roots of the violence and fear that afflict women, starting with the working-class midwestern family she was adopted into and ending with her own experience of mothering daughters. In essays both literary and experimental, Keisner illustrates the tension between the illusion of safety, our desire for control, and our struggle to keep the things we fear from reaching out and pulling us under.

Author Bio

Jody Keisner is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Threepenny Review, Brevity, Fourth Genre, and AARP’s the Girlfriend, among other periodicals. Find out more at www.jodykeisner.com.


"Keisner debuts with a riveting essay collection that revisits her painful past. . . . The essays attack difficult material straight on, but Keisner's smart, clear, and incisive writing cuts deep."—Publishers Weekly

"In her luminous new collection, Under My Bed and Other Essays, Keisner interrogates fear—personal and collective—from one sharp angle after the next, with a special acuity for the fears known best by women and mothers."—Jeannine Ouellette, Brevity's Blog

"As she faces her worries head on, Keisner grants herself—and her readers—access to the deeper, more sustaining forces that underlie our anxieties: attachment, devotion, joy, and an exquisite awareness of the preciousness of life. What we most fear, her writing reminds us, reveals what we most treasure. The greatest triumph of Under My Bed and Other Essays is how masterfully Keisner captures this inescapable tension."—Nicole Graev Lipson, Hippocampus Magazine

"Under My Bed is a tender book, an honest book, and a rich tale of learning to thrive just as we are—flawed and imperfect, yet still fully capable of risking both growth and love."—Susan J. Tweit, Story Circle Network

"Ultimately, it is women who heal other women. The author's grandmother's parting advice to her is, 'Don’t be afraid.' With these essays, Jody Keisner both enumerates the many reasons women should be afraid and the many ways grace and strength carry them past that fear and onto empowerment."—Alice Stephens, Washington Independent Review of Books

"Keisner's book shows how we can pull the proverbial boogeyman out from under the bed and, by naming it, remove its power over us."—Elizabeth Fiala, Adroit Journal

"Under My Bed offers a complex, compelling, and multi-faceted look at the origins of fear, motherhood, and forgiveness."—Emily Webber, merliterary.com

"Keisner expertly braids together her life's stories with research to guide readers through the immediate experience of fear as well as the effort to reckon with it."—Whitney (Walters) Jacobson, Split Rock Review

"This well-written and insightful book is for anyone who wonders how to confront fear for themselves, their children, or women in general. Told with compassion and curiosity, it will also appeal to anyone overcoming chronic disease or parental bullying."—Sandra Hager Eliason, Rain Taxi

“Vulnerable and smart, thoughtful and thought-provoking, gorgeously written and poignantly tender, Under My Bed and Other Essays shines a light into darkness and shows us all the messy glories of what it means to be human.”—Randon Billings Noble, editor of A Harp in the Stars: An Anthology of Lyric Essays

Table of Contents

Part 1. Origins
Under My Bed
Recreationally Terrified
The Secret of Water
Part 2. Under the Skin
The Maternal Lizard Brain
Neural Pathways to Love
Body Language
Side Effects
Part 3. Risings
My Grandmother and the Sleeping Prophet
Runaway Daughter
Woman Running Alone
Selected Bibliography

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