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There Is No Blue
Martha Baillie
Coach House Books / Softcover / Oct 2023
9781552454749 (ISBN-10: 1552454746)
Biography and Memoir / Death & Bereavement
price: $23.95
184 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Martha Baillie’s richly layered response to her mother’s passing, her father's life, and her sister’s suicide is an exploration of how the body, the rooms we inhabit, and our languages offer the psyche a home, if only for a time.

Three essays, three deaths. The first is the death of the author’s mother, a protracted disappearance, leaving space for thoughtfulness and ritual: the washing of her body, the making of a death mask. The second considers the author’s father, his remoteness, his charm, a lacuna at the centre of the family even before his death, earlier than her mother’s. And then, the shocking death of the author’s sister, a visual artist and writer living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, who writes three reasons to die on her bedroom wall and then takes her life.


"Martha Baillie’s novels are thrillingly, joyously singular, that rare combination of sui generis and just plain generous. That There Is No Blue, her memoir, is all of those things too, is no surprise; still, she has gone somewhere extraordinary. This triptych of essays, which exquisitely unfolds the “disobedient tale” of the lives and deaths of her mother, her father, and her sister, is a meditation on the mystery and wonder of grief and art making and home and memory itself. It made me think of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repair, in which the mending is not hidden but featured and beautifully illuminated. Baillie’s variety of attention, carved out of language, is tenderness, is love." – Maud Casey, author of City of Incurable Women

"This is a stunning memoir, intense and meticulous in its observations of family life. Baillie subtly interrogates and conveys the devastating mistranslations that take place in childhood, the antagonism and porousness of siblings, and the tragedy of schizophrenia as it unfolds. I couldn’t put it down." – Dr. Lisa Appignanesi, author of Mad, Bad and Sad and Everyday Madness

"Exquisite." – Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife

"I am grateful for this profound meditation on family and loss.” – Charlie Kaufman, filmmaker

"This strange, unsettling memoir of outer life and inner life and their bizarre twining captures the author’s identity by way of her mother’s death, her sister’s failing battle with mental illness, and the mysterious figure of her father. It combines anguished guilt, deep tenderness, and bemused affection in highly evocative, often disturbing prose. Its brave honesty is amplified by a persistent lyricism; its undercurrent of fear is uplifted by a surprising, resilient hopefulness. It is both a plea for exoneration and an act of exoneration, an authentic meditation on the terrible difficulty of being human." – Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

About the Author:

Martha Baillie lives and works in Toronto. Her novel The Incident Report was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and is being made into a feature film to be released in 2023. The Search for Heinrich Schlogel was an Oprah editors' pick. Sister Language, co-written with her late sister, Christina Baillie, was a 2020 Trillium Award finalist. Martha's non-fiction can be foundin Brick: A Literary Journal . Her poetry has appeared in the Iowa Review . Her multimedia project based on The Search for Heinrich Schlogel is archived at www.schlogel.ca.

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