“Mary Cappello's Called Back shimmers on the page. Ezra Pound said a writer has to ‘make it new’ and Cappello has done that rare feat. Cancer books have become a genre that nobody wants to read, except this book. Read this book. Called Back is exquisite.”—Patty Dann author of Mermaids, and of The Goldfish Went on Vacation: A Memoir of Loss (and Learning to Tell the Truth About It)
“There is no scarier moment than when the doctor looks at his feet, clears his throat, and mutters that you have cancer. The earth opens under you. After a while, most patients summon a remarkable courage to confront the relentless disease and the rugged cures. But few have summoned the clear-eyed, large-hearted intelligence that Mary Cappello has to describe the experience in harrowing, redemptive detail. With precision, passion, wit, and a poet’s eye for the incongruous and devastating—that is to say, the human—she has written a book that will open your eyes and touch your heart…Called Back is an astonishing literary achievement.”—J.D. McClatchy, editor of The Yale Review, author of Mercury Dressing
“The momentum of Called Back…derives from [Mary Cappello’s] extraordinarily capacious mind: her intelligence, wit, and emotional candor; the clarity and alertness of her train of thought; the restlessness of her style… Cappello makes stunning connections between literature, art, her life, medicine, cancer. A brilliant book.”—David Shields, author of The Thing About Life is One Day You’ll Be Dead, and Reality Hunger
“I loved being offered the companionship of Cappello’s feeling mind… I loved her insistence on taking everything in, not rushing to be ‘healed’ before experience registers. I loved the precision and passion with which this book about facing mortality attends to the particulars of being alive—both in the body and in language.”—Jan Clausen author of If You Like Difficulty, and From a Glass House, and Apples and Oranges: My Journey through Sexual Identity
In her intensely personal and insightful memoir, Mary Cappello wonders aloud for us what breast cancer awareness really makes us aware of, and responds as if for the first time to the deceivingly simple command: “tell me what you’re feeling.” Unable to eat on chemotherapy, Cappello feasts on the paintings of Marsden Hartley, yearns in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein, keeps company with Marcel Proust, and lets queer artists tease her back to life. Called Back looks through the lens of cancer to discover—often with humor—new truths about intimacy and essential solitude, eroticism, the fact of the body, and the impossibility of turning away.
Mary Cappello is the author of two previous books of literary nonfiction, Night Bloom and Awkward: A Detour, a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Her essays and experimental prose appear in such places as The Georgia Review, Salmagundi, Southwest Review, and American Letters and Commentary, and they have been awarded the Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from Teachers and Writers Collaborative, the Lange-Taylor Prize from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Notable Essay of the Year citations in The Best American Essays. A former Fulbright Lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow, Russia, Cappello is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island.