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Catalog Archive / Fall 2021

Daughter in Retrograde
A Memoir

Why did my mother die on International Star Wars Day?

When she isn't eavesdropping on family gossip or gazing at taxidermy squirrels in smoky dives, Courtney Kersten charts the uncertainty of her midwestern homeland by looking to the stars and planets. As a teen she had plunged deep into the worlds of signs, symbols, and prophecy. But as her mother—her traveling companion into these spheres—lies dying, Kersten must learn to navigate without the person who always lit the way. Their last journey together, to swim in a Wisconsin lake, is a bittersweet, darkly comic, poignant climax to this transformative memoir.

Courtney Kersten Courtney Kersten is an essayist and scholar. A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, she teaches creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her essays can be found in River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, and The Master's Review.

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Daughter in Retrograde has taught me how to gravitate toward signs and meanings in my life, how to transcend expectations of grief and healing. I’m reminded that memories and meanings will always be there as constants: celestial bodies grounding us in our ever-changing universes.”

“A fierce and funny meditation on family and loss that surprises the reader again and again, full of beautiful sassiness and skepticism even as it is so open to the numinous possibilities of what is unseen.”
—Tim Miller, author of Body Blows

“Heartbreaking in its honesty, lovely in its artistry, succoring in its strength. A stunning memoir.”
—Mary Clearman Blew, author of This Is Not the Ivy

“A fast-paced, funny, heartbreaking memoir about a midwestern mother-daughter Thelma and Louise, hard partying, wise cracking, and brave. A tragic-comic meditation on love, loss, and what we see in the stars.”
—Micah Perks, author of What Becomes Us



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New in Paperback!
October 2021
LC: 2017042906 PS
208 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

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Cloth $24.95
ISBN 9780299317003
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Paper $17.95
ISBN 9780299317041
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