Sometimes I read books and think – dog-gone-it, I was thinking the same thing; I should have written that down before she did. Sometimes I read books and think – wow, I never would have thought of that. Today, when I finished Lia Purpura’s On Looking I thought – Whew! I thought of some of those things, but boy am I glad she wrote them down instead of me.

Purpura’s grasp of observation is stunning – she notices the way animals are beautifully crushed by cars, how plastic grocery bags caught on a breeze resemble marine egg sacs, the recurrence of a safety pin lying forgotten on a lawn. And then she takes these observed things and weaves them, bending metal and idea, leaf and thought, into lovely lyrical essays that remind us what it means to live with loss, and hope, and invisibility, and language.

Like no other book I’ve ever read, Purpura’s essays make me want to be a better writer. I hope they do the same for you.

On Looking: Essays by Lia Purpura Cover of Lia Purpura's On Looking