Janet Burroway followed in the footsteps of Sylvia Plath. Like Plath, she was an early Mademoiselle guest editor in New York, an Ivy League and Cambridge student, an aspiring poet-playwright-novelist in the period before feminism existed, a woman who struggled with her generation's conflicting demands of work and love. Unlike Plath, Janet Burroway survived.

In sixteen essays of wit, rage, and reconciliation, Embalming Mom chronicles loss and renaissance in a life that reaches from Florida to Arizona across to England and home again. Burroway brilliantly weaves her way through the dangers of daily life—divorcing her first husband, raising two boys, establishing a new life, scattering her mother's ashes and sorting the meager possessions of her father. Each new danger and challenge highlight the tenacious will of the body and spirit to heal.

“Ordinary life is more dangerous than war because nobody survives,” Burroway contemplates in the essay “Danger and Domesticity,” yet each of her meditations reminds us that it's our daily rituals and trials that truly keep us alive.

“Alternately clever, humorous, lively, sad, and charming, her book is recommended for both public and academic libraries with large women's collections.”—Library Journal

“Burroway, author of Cutting Stone and six other novels, is a pithy essayist with an inner compass that steers her to the ambiguity at the heart of the human condition.”—Booklist

“Sightline Books is an exciting and welcome promise of all the excellent nonfiction writing just waiting to come into view.”—Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

“These gathered-together autobiographical essays reveal a fascinating, honest, witty writer I thought I had known (briefly) thirty years ago. I am delighted to discover, in this charming memoir, that I was woefully ignorant of her extraordinary life. Now I feel privileged to learn of it in such an elegantly written fashion.”—Doris Grumbach

“The most lively, witty, uncensored celebration of the life of a writer, woman, lover, wife, mother, stepmother against the history of her time—and what a time it was and is! No ‘futile cry of ME!’ but bold and brilliant portraits of where we have been and where we are headed. Brava Burroway!”—Julia Markus

Past Praise for Janet Burroway

“She writes like a robust Angel.”—London Guardian on Raw Silk

“A fine and complex novel, a comedy and then some.”—New Yorker on Opening Nights

“ . . . a novel of rare and lustrous quality.”—Newsweek on Raw Silk

“What sets Raw Silk apart is Janet Burroway's superb stylistic gifts.”—New York Times Book Review

“Miss Burroway’s gifts are those of a fine, intuitive actress . . . one of those rare, accomplished stylists whose art lies in the air of effortlessness, or near invisibility.”—New Statesman on The Buzzards

“For people like me, these essays on life are instructive. Their titles reveal their central themes, but Burroway feels confident and free to range wide from the main trunk, looping out into her life and her metaphors, then back again, probing through and confessing all because, for the real writer who has come so far, it seems now there is no point in not.”—Fourth Genre

Retail price

Retail price

Retail price

Publication Details

Publication Date
Pages, art, trim size
152 pages, 5 1/4 x 9 inches