Under My Bed and Other Essays

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Under My Bed and Other Essays

American Lives Series

242 pages

eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2022

978-1-4962-3286-1

$21.95 Add to Cart
Paperback

September 2022

978-1-4962-3047-8

$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2022

978-1-4962-3285-4

$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.
 

Praise

"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

“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

“Moving and thoughtful in equal measure, Jody Keisner sifts through the fears embedded in girls and women in a culture where men’s violence against women is a constant threat. Under My Bed is a most memorable read as well as a fruitful work to inspire classroom discussion.”—Jane Caputi, author of The Age of Sex Crime

Under My Bed and Other Essays offers compelling insight into the fears and anxieties that assault our daily thoughts and that seem embedded at times in our very nerves and tissues. Jody Keisner knows the pain and compulsion firsthand and writes of it with compassion and surprise. A vivid and absorbing book.”—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

“This book explores our aversion to scary things, as well as the emotional, physical, cultural, and psychological allure of fear. Keisner examines everything from horror movies to giving birth—and does it fearlessly. This should be a paradox, but it’s not. Instead, it’s a literary achievement. Yes, soldiers, astronauts, and refugees overcome their fears, but so do the rest of us. To do so with grace is another thing. This book is that thing.”—Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

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