Lily (from the The Widower’s Notebook)

For NATIONAL CAT DAY I could not think of anything better than posting this drawing I made of my last cat, Lily, along with this excerpt about her from my memoir THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK (Penguin Books). It’s a bit long but… Beside Joy’s main closet is a tall stack of shelves where her sweaters and tees are neatly stacked. I kept this door closed, but every morning it was open. For a while I thought the magnets that held the door in place must have weakened, or it was some weird settling of the building, though I couldn’t remember it ever happening before. Every night I closed it. Every morning it was open. It started to feel eerie. Then, one morning, still in bed, I saw the door bang open, and Joy’s cat, Lily, jumped out. When I investigated, I saw that she had made a sort of nest on one of the shelves among … Read more

Events for The Last Mona Lisa

Event Time Place Adriana Trigiani Facebook Live (virtual event) Tuesday, August 10, 2021 6:00 pm (ET) Adriana Trigiani Live link here Jonathan Santlofer in conversation with Joyce Carol Oates (virtual event) Wednesday, August 11, 2021 8:00 pm (ET) Harvard Bookstore / Politics & Prose / Books & Books link here Jonathan Santlofer Reading / Q&A (virtual event) Monday August 16, 2021 9:00 pm (ET) Poisoned Pen Scottsdale, AZ link here  Jonathan Santlofer in conversation with Joyce Carol Oates (virtual event) Tuesday, August 17, 2021 8:00 pm (ET) Little City Books Hoboken, NJ link here Jonathan Santlofer in conversation with Book Reporter’s Carol Fitzgerald (virtual event) Tuesday, August 17, 2021 1:00 pm (ET) Book Reporter (check back for link) Jonathan Santlofer in conversation with Hank Phillippi Ryan (virtual event) Tuesday, August 17, 2021 4:00 pm (ET) A Mighty Blaze link here Jonathan Santlofer Reading / Q&A (virtual event) Wednesday, August 25, 2021 7:00 pm (ET) Cuyahoga County … Read more

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Author Interviews: Jonathan Santlofer

 Five years ago, author and artist Jonathan Santlofer was at home with his wife, food writer Joy Santlofer, when Joy began feeling feverish. Joy, who had undergone outpatient surgery the day before for a torn meniscus in her knee, called her doctor’s office and was told to come for her scheduled appointment four days later. That appointment never happened. “It’s hard for me to say what exactly happened,” Santlofer says. “I had walked out of the room briefly to go into the back of our loft, to my studio, and when I came back, it was not that much later, but my wife was in incredible distress.” Joy died suddenly — possibly from medications interacting badly — and Santlofer was left in what he calls a “fugue state” of grief. Though he continued living in the loft that they had shared, he initially put away all of the photographs of his wife, because they … Read more

When It Comes to Grief and Loss

Sometimes the thing you least want to do becomes the very thing that touches other people most. I never wanted to write The Widowers Notebook, a book that chronicles my wife, Joy’s sudden death. I resisted writing it, then resisted publishing it. I told myself it was too personal, too revealing, too painful. I worried until the day it was published. Then I started traveling around the country with the book, meeting people, hearing their stories, their need to tell them; men and women talking of grief and loss and, if not wanting answers at least acknowledgment that although they may never get over their loss they will get better. Messages from strangers flood my website and inbox every day telling me I have written their words, thanking me for having the courage to write them. I tell them it was not courage; it was simply the way I processed my grief. Everywhere I go … Read more

Pop Matters – Compassionately Explores How Men Are Allowed to Grieve

  It’s a tough balancing act when an artist enters the realm of grief, especially when it’s a true story. Suppose that the real lesson of life is that it’s a logically sequenced collection of losses: innocence, money, possessions, or (in the case of this book) partners we chose for our life who suddenly slip away by design or the random chaos of the universe. Is the fact that we choose to testify about our stories of loss the first step to irrelevancy? The question is not about “why” we are telling the story. That doesn’t need to be asked. The question should be who are we to tell the story and what new elements to the universal feeling will we add to the literature of grief? If our memoir won’t realistically detail and provide a new element to this narrative, how should it serve the reader? Christopher John Stevens Pop Matters Read More Here

The New Yorker: Briefly Noted

“The Widower’s Notebook, by Jonathan Santlofer (Penguin). In this memoir, a novelist and artist contends with the sudden death of his wife. Santlofer adds new insights to the familiar genre of the grief memoir by exploring the ways in which men are expected to handle loss and sorrow. “ ‘Men do not write books about grief’ was something I heard a lot and even told myself,” he notes. Between tender recollections of his wife and attempts to return to a version of his routine, the author realizes that he has been culturally conditioned to divert his energy into pretending to be strong and moving on quickly, and he struggles to discuss his anguish openly, even with his daughter.” The New Yorker Briefly Noted READ HERE

Lit Hub: On Men and Grief: Dispatches from my Book Tour

A hand goes up from the back of the room. It is an unexpected full house in a southern bookstore where I have been invited to talk about my memoir, The Widower’s Notebook. The man, late middle age, salt and pepper hair, says, “My best buddy lost his wife a couple of months ago. I’ve been trying to get him out, inviting him to ballgames, drinks, dinner. Nothing works. Should I keep trying or leave him alone? I just… don’t… know.” His voice cracks on the last couple of words. I take a moment. I say, “Look, I’m no expert and I don’t know your friend, it may be too soon for him, but I’d say keep trying. Some of us push people away when what we really want is the opposite. Maybe men do that because we’re brought up with the idea that we’re supposed to tough things out, not ask for help, or … Read more

Vasari 21 Radio: Interview with Jonathan Santlofer

When his wife of four decades died suddenly five years ago, Jonathan Santlofer entered a landscape all of us will face sooner or later: the terrain of wrenching and heartbreaking loss. In his memoir published last month by Penguin Books, the artist-turned-novelist describes the days, months, and first few years after Joy’s death, and how he coped by keeping a diary of his interactions with a new and radically changed reality. In our interview, he talks about how the notebook kept him sane, how men and women handle grieving differently (and what the social expectations are of each sex), how friends responded to his newly solo status, and how drawing helped him preserve his memories and come to terms with his grief. His candid—and sometimes even humorous—recollections make for memorable reading and a wide-ranging conversation about love, loss, and the power of art. Listen to full podcast here