“In Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past, Kathryn Nuernberger pokes her intriguing intellect into the countless mysteries of the human miracle. Nuernberger has an insatiable curiosity for curiosities, coupled with sublime honesty and a prose style laced with wit, wonder, and grace. The brief essay at its best.” —Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire
“I am amazed at Kathryn Nuerenberger’s ability to conjoin the two unlikely but electric bedfellows—deep research and imaginative lyricism—in so many nimble ways. Surprising in both its facts and its personal candor, active in its rigor and heart, Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past announces a satisfying new voice to the tradition of the essay.” —Elena Passarello, author of Let Me Clear My Throat and Animals Strike Curious Poses
“This meditative and lyrical adventure is made of prose that shimmers with poetic nuance. Channeling the curiosity and intelligence of the unclassifiable John Berger and the precision of the formidable poet Anna Akhmatova, Nuernberger gifts us writing that is lit as if from within. It’s the kind of book you’ll want to give to anyone you love.” —Kim Dana Kupperman
Could Marie Antoinette’s wigs get any higher? Could the anonymous women riding in hot air balloons alone with gentlemen be any more scandalous? Does an Ozark holler hold the mouth to a lost cave with the longest, thickest vein of gold in North America? Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past is a collection of rumors, secrets, tall tales, and lies that begins at the court of Louis XV and ends in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.
With all the astonishments of history and the intimacy of memoir, Kathryn Nuernberger’s collection juxtaposes peripheral figures from the French Revolution—the assassin, the executioner, the mistress, the spy, the son of a slave, the transgender swordfighter—with the oral histories of poachers, prophets, well witches, and ghosts of the Ozarks a century later. In essays that are equal parts historical and personal, Nuernberger brings the marvelous strangeness of the past into our present moment with wry wit and insight. Nuernberger has an eye for salvaging overlooked snapshots of human decency and moments of moral courage—the memories of which we might just want to save for later.
Kathryn Nuernberger is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Director of Pleiades Press at the University of Central Missouri.