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In this perceptive and provocative essay collection, an award-winning writer shares her personal and reportorial investigation into America's search for meaning When Jordan Kisner was a child, she was saved by Jesus Christ at summer camp, much to the confusion of her nonreligious family. She was, she writes, "just naturally reverent," a fact that didn't change when she--muc In this perceptive and provocative essay collection, an award-winning writer shares her personal and reportorial investigation into America's search for meaning When Jordan Kisner was a child, she was saved by Jesus Christ at summer camp, much to the confusion of her nonreligious family. She was, she writes, "just naturally reverent," a fact that didn't change when she--much to her own confusion--lost her faith as a teenager. Not sure why her religious conviction had come or where it had gone, she did what anyone would do: "You go about the great American work of assigning yourself to other gods: yoga, talk radio, neoatheism, CrossFit, cleanses, football, the academy, the American Dream, Beyonce." A curiosity about the subtle systems guiding contemporary life pervades Kisner's work. Her celebrated essay "Thin Places" (Best American Essays 2016), about an experimental neurosurgery developed to treat severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, asks how putting the neural touchpoint of the soul on a pacemaker may collide science and psychology with philosophical questions about illness, the limits of the self, and spiritual transformation. How should she understand the appearance of her own obsessive compulsive disorder at the very age she lost her faith?


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In this perceptive and provocative essay collection, an award-winning writer shares her personal and reportorial investigation into America's search for meaning When Jordan Kisner was a child, she was saved by Jesus Christ at summer camp, much to the confusion of her nonreligious family. She was, she writes, "just naturally reverent," a fact that didn't change when she--muc In this perceptive and provocative essay collection, an award-winning writer shares her personal and reportorial investigation into America's search for meaning When Jordan Kisner was a child, she was saved by Jesus Christ at summer camp, much to the confusion of her nonreligious family. She was, she writes, "just naturally reverent," a fact that didn't change when she--much to her own confusion--lost her faith as a teenager. Not sure why her religious conviction had come or where it had gone, she did what anyone would do: "You go about the great American work of assigning yourself to other gods: yoga, talk radio, neoatheism, CrossFit, cleanses, football, the academy, the American Dream, Beyonce." A curiosity about the subtle systems guiding contemporary life pervades Kisner's work. Her celebrated essay "Thin Places" (Best American Essays 2016), about an experimental neurosurgery developed to treat severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, asks how putting the neural touchpoint of the soul on a pacemaker may collide science and psychology with philosophical questions about illness, the limits of the self, and spiritual transformation. How should she understand the appearance of her own obsessive compulsive disorder at the very age she lost her faith?

30 review for Thin Places: Essays from In Between

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    In her debut collection of essays, Jordan Kisner ponders identity and spirituality in modern-day America - reading this as a European, I can say that many of these texts capture those cultural aspects of the U.S. that seem particularly foreign to us, especially when it comes to religious attitudes and mores like debutante balls. All of the 13 essays somehow negotiate the relationship between inside and outside and the question whether these borders are permeable. Relating to that, the title-givi In her debut collection of essays, Jordan Kisner ponders identity and spirituality in modern-day America - reading this as a European, I can say that many of these texts capture those cultural aspects of the U.S. that seem particularly foreign to us, especially when it comes to religious attitudes and mores like debutante balls. All of the 13 essays somehow negotiate the relationship between inside and outside and the question whether these borders are permeable. Relating to that, the title-giving text states: "In thin places, the (Celtic) folklore goes, the barrier between the physical and the spiritual world wears thin and becomes porous. (...) Distinctions between you and not-you, real and unreal, worldly and otherworldly, fall way." Kisner's essays combine reportage, memoir and factual reasoning. Often associative and re-constructing ways of thinking, the meandering texts tend to take their readers to unexpected places, drawing connections between the immigrant experience and coming out as queer, beach parties and church services, or mommy bloggers and activism against Trump. If you want to get an idea about Kisner's writing you can check out "Jesus Raves , which won a Pushcart Prize in 2016, or "Thin Places", which was selected for The Best American Essays 2016. An interesting collection, but over the length of the book, Kisner didn't always hold my attention - I felt like some texts were lacking urgency.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I don’t read essays as a rule. I’m not sure why and going by how much I enjoyed this one, that rule really needs to change. But that’s just to say that this collection didn’t have an immediate attraction to me, outside of the fact that one of the essays was about OCD. That immediately interested me. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter how you come to the book sometimes, it only matters that you get there and I am so very glad I came to this book, because it was absolutely terrific. Thin Places a I don’t read essays as a rule. I’m not sure why and going by how much I enjoyed this one, that rule really needs to change. But that’s just to say that this collection didn’t have an immediate attraction to me, outside of the fact that one of the essays was about OCD. That immediately interested me. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter how you come to the book sometimes, it only matters that you get there and I am so very glad I came to this book, because it was absolutely terrific. Thin Places are places in the world where the realities can bleed into each other, liminal and uncertain, complex, label defying layers that comprise so much of life. And Jordan Kisner makes for a superb guide to those places. She writes about faith, love, language in such a clever way, interspersing observational and personal perspectives. I suppose that’s the beauty of essay as a form, it allows for such infusions of personality, wherein journalism alone is valued for its detached objectivity. I’m not sure I appreciated that fact before now. But because essays are such personal beasts, the crux of their appeal hinges on the author and in this case, it works out perfectly. I’ve never read or heard of the author prior to grabbing this book off of Netgalley, so there were no expectations and had there been any, that would have still be blown right out of the water, because Kisner is just such a great writer, an absolutely awesome (yeah, awe inspiring) combination of stunning emotional intelligence, eruditeness and command of language. The best way I can describe this reading experience is…it was like having a conversation ( albeit format restricted one sided version thereof) with a smart well spoken person who told you the best, most interesting stories about all the things you found interesting. The range of these stories alone…from Mormon women uniting in their efforts to promote ethical (which is to say not the current one) government to Shakers to yes, that OCD one is notable. The way Kisner writes about things, putting them in historical and political context, drawing on facts and personal experiences…it’s so compelling. And she manages to give going on tangents a good name too, I absolutely loved the way the author veers off into a personal experience and then get right back to the main subject without skipping a single step, perfectly seamless connections between the author and their stories. And never not interesting, not for a moment. You can’t wait to see what she says next. It’s such a pleasure as a reader to be this engaged with, this excited by a book. Frankly, by a mind. Made me an instant fan. If all one sided conversations were this good, I’d pass on dialogue altogether. Loved this book and I can only hope it finds the wide readership it deserves. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I started reading these essays on a plane and allllmoooost wanted the flight to last longer because Jordan Kisner's writing is just that good. Culturally relevant topics + stunningly beautiful prose + deep thoughtfulness = nonfiction catnip for me. There wasn't a single piece that dragged or felt out of place in the collection. Stellar!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Surbaugh

    you ever read a book so good it pisses you off?? That’s how I feel right now. I am so MAD this book is so good, the sentences are so beautiful, what the FUCK

  5. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    I could have gone without the first to essays, but out of 13, I really enjoyed 10 of them. Over all 3.5 out 5. More thoughts to come.

  6. 5 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    A Goodreads giveaway. 4 1/2 stars. I haven't found many essay collection in the past 2-3 decades that is so refreshing. Most are monotonous. In a sense l have heard/read the same thing from countless others. Many of these essays gives a new insights of ideas of these situations/subjects.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tzipora

    3.5 stars I have so many conflicting feelings about this essay collection. Kisner writes beautifully but she also is prone to longwindedness and trying to pack too many disparate subjects into a single essay. I found loved the earliest essays that were the most distinctly focused on religion and spirituality (albeit a very Christianized understanding of such and it is dishonest of the blurb to claim otherwise). In the middle I started to get absolutely frustrated and bored and annoyed. I set the 3.5 stars I have so many conflicting feelings about this essay collection. Kisner writes beautifully but she also is prone to longwindedness and trying to pack too many disparate subjects into a single essay. I found loved the earliest essays that were the most distinctly focused on religion and spirituality (albeit a very Christianized understanding of such and it is dishonest of the blurb to claim otherwise). In the middle I started to get absolutely frustrated and bored and annoyed. I set the book down for weeks and came back finally to finish it and enjoyed a few essays only to hit another of the long rambling ones and feel frustrated again. One example of what frustrated me, in the last essay- Backward Miracle- she somehow talks about tattoos and queerness and stumbles off into a very long tale of the first tattooed white woman and then suddenly she’s back to queerness again, her own queerness, and by then I had honestly forgotten that that had been where the essay had begun. It’s maddeningly difficult to follow some of these because of the long asides and often because there are many (the middle essay BLANK was the absolute worst at this). I had some caveats with the “spirituality” pieces as well, since Kisner was a religious studies major but appears to have never recognized the way Christian hegemony dominants her understanding. This isn’t necessarily a problem but that the publisher blurbed this as being about spirituality and Kisner herself makes some minor attempts to venture outside of Christianity- it fails. And this is true of many attempts in this country to be ecumenical but oof there is a small part about Judaism that absolutely baffled me and made no sense at all. I’ll spare the long and frustrated diatribe I wrote about this section as it’s such a small part of the book but if you mention Judaism in a way that makes no sense to a Jewish reader, well, I had to question how accurate other parts were. Especially for someone who majored in religion. Perhaps that was another one of the issues with this collection. Kisner reaches too far at times and loses her point entirely or ends up out of her depth. These essays could’ve benefited from being tightened up and edited further. Pretty or talented writing aside, I’m not a fan of indulging in that if the point or thesis statement of the essay is lost entirely. I truly found it maddening at points to read. I really struggle to know what else to say or how to rate this. I took copious notes and almost had to in order to keep up with what was going on at times. But I read and love essay collections and they should not require this much work. There are gems within both the collection as a whole and even within some of the longer messier pieces. I would say maybe that Kisner’s style is not for me but I’m often guilty of being similarly longwinded and lapsing into asides as well and this is just not something you maintain in a final draft. I shouldn’t be reading an essay and complete forget what the point was or that oh wait we are talking about the authors queerness but I forgot because we lapsed into page after page about a woman captured and tattooed by an indigenous tribe and rambled off into her history and motivations. I’m not completely dense. I know that the overarching essay was actually about tattoos but it went in so many directions I was frustrated. That’s not to say even that these asides themselves weren’t interesting, often they were, maybe even too much so which is how I lost track of what came before them. Unfortunately this happened again and again and is not a pleasant reading experience, in my opinion. All that said, I would read Kisner again but I think I prefer her in smaller doses. This collection felt very all over the place at times and was simply too much.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Renee Seinfeld

    An enjoyable and enlightening book of essays by Jordan Kisner covering a wide array of topics. Some of the essays included interviewing tan, j-crew wearing, Cadillac Escalade driving, hipster evangelicals from Montauk; attending the yearly Martha Washington Pageant and Ball in Laredo, Texas, (a town that is 95% hispanic); a type of brain surgery for people who struggle with extreme OCD, and an essay regarding the massive shortage of coroners and forensic pathologists in the United States. One of An enjoyable and enlightening book of essays by Jordan Kisner covering a wide array of topics. Some of the essays included interviewing tan, j-crew wearing, Cadillac Escalade driving, hipster evangelicals from Montauk; attending the yearly Martha Washington Pageant and Ball in Laredo, Texas, (a town that is 95% hispanic); a type of brain surgery for people who struggle with extreme OCD, and an essay regarding the massive shortage of coroners and forensic pathologists in the United States. One of my favorite essays was about MWEG (Mormon Women for Ethical Government) a social action organization that began as a result of Trump winning the 2016 election. Appalled that Trump won, a small group of Mormon women in Utah gathered together and have grown to an organization of over 5,000 providing non-partisan accountability in government. I can't help but wonder if these women were the force that influenced Congressman Chaffetz's resignation and perhaps Senator Orin Hatch's retirement. I also wonder if these Mormon women influenced Mitt Romney's decision to vote in favor of Trump's impeachment. I absolutely loved the randomness of the essays and Kisner's ability to step effortlessly into all of these subcultures in such a respectful and non-judgmental manner. Ms. Kisner also weaves herself into all of the essays and we follow her personal journey to become the woman she is now. A wonderful read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Afton Montgomery

    Jordan Kisner announces herself humbly as a master of her genre, with essays that exude brilliance individually and then perhaps even more so as a carefully ordered collection. Her "thin places" are the spaces where "the barrier between the physical world and the spiritual world wears thin and becomes porous. Invisible things, like music or love or dead people or God, might become visible there." There's no way to walk away from her collection without feeling as if you live in a thin place-- as Jordan Kisner announces herself humbly as a master of her genre, with essays that exude brilliance individually and then perhaps even more so as a carefully ordered collection. Her "thin places" are the spaces where "the barrier between the physical world and the spiritual world wears thin and becomes porous. Invisible things, like music or love or dead people or God, might become visible there." There's no way to walk away from her collection without feeling as if you live in a thin place-- as if you might never have to leave it. Reading her feels like listening to that guitar part in a favorite song when all other sound falls away and then, suddenly, your body falls away, and your self spreads to take up the entirety of a room. Kisner writes about OCD and the boundaries of selfhood, about a New York artist using empty space as a feminine medium, about a Martha Washington pageant obsessed with lineage held on the Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo border. She writes of young Christians clubbing and converting during summers spent in Montauk, of forensic pathologists in Ohio quietly defending the dead who can no longer speak for themselves. She writes along tightropes, but in the world of her mind, these spaces widen to become comfortably navigable pathways. In a world that seeks to erase the spaces between, this may be the most important book you read this year.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "A thin place is where one can walk in two worlds – the worlds are fused together, knitted loosely where the differences can be discerned or tightly where the two worlds become one."~Internet Quote • I really enjoyed these essays, Kisner has a way with words that makes you sit up and pay attention. In Thin Places she explores modern American spirituality, culture and personal identity. Through these 13 essays she shares some of her own intimate experience as well as insightful reportage on contem "A thin place is where one can walk in two worlds – the worlds are fused together, knitted loosely where the differences can be discerned or tightly where the two worlds become one."~Internet Quote • I really enjoyed these essays, Kisner has a way with words that makes you sit up and pay attention. In Thin Places she explores modern American spirituality, culture and personal identity. Through these 13 essays she shares some of her own intimate experience as well as insightful reportage on contemporary American society. From debutant balls, to OCD, to foresnic pathologists, to club hopping young Christian's, and more. This is a complex collection I feel like any description I give wont do it justice. It was a facinating read to say the least! This collection never once comes across as preachy, but rather open minded, journalistic, inquisitive and personal. Kisner's writing is excellent, lyrical prose that keep you wanting more. So looking forward to whatever she does next! • Thank You to the tagged publisher for sending me this arc opinions are my own. • For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tessy Consentino

    Perfect essays. Fascinating subjects. Stitching was my favorite.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Thoughtful, insightful, & honest. Thoughtful, insightful, & honest.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alastair Woods

    Without a doubt one of the best essay collections I have read in a long time. Kisner's writing is eloquent, poetic and thoughtful; like listening to a very smart friend explain abstract concepts to you like you're a five year old - but with lots of compassion and humour. I love her blend of memoir, essay, journalism and criticism. I was particularly fond of the opener "Attunement," which touches on the themes of faith and uncertainty. Mid-way through, "The Big Empty" was a beautiful meditation o Without a doubt one of the best essay collections I have read in a long time. Kisner's writing is eloquent, poetic and thoughtful; like listening to a very smart friend explain abstract concepts to you like you're a five year old - but with lots of compassion and humour. I love her blend of memoir, essay, journalism and criticism. I was particularly fond of the opener "Attunement," which touches on the themes of faith and uncertainty. Mid-way through, "The Big Empty" was a beautiful meditation on the power of physical space to transform the space inside our minds; an idea echoed in the essay "Soon This Place Will Be Too Small." The final essay, "Backward Miracle" was my absolute favourite - and it will remain among the most affecting essays I've read. Particularly in this moment of global uncertainty, Kisner's writing felt like dropping an anchor into churning waters.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    I received an ARC of this title via a Goodreads Giveaway: Individually, I enjoyed many of these essays especially the ones that had more of a journalistic style looking into a specific piece of American culture like the evangelical preacher in Montauk or the debutante ball in Texas. I had assumed the whole book would be written in this style. In reality, it is much more a literary collection of essays with a very loose connecting theme. There is no doubt she is an excellent writer, but this type I received an ARC of this title via a Goodreads Giveaway: Individually, I enjoyed many of these essays especially the ones that had more of a journalistic style looking into a specific piece of American culture like the evangelical preacher in Montauk or the debutante ball in Texas. I had assumed the whole book would be written in this style. In reality, it is much more a literary collection of essays with a very loose connecting theme. There is no doubt she is an excellent writer, but this type of literary personal soul-searching is not my specific taste. So if you are looking for a deep dive into American spirituality and culture, I would not say this is the book for you, but if you are interested in excellent writing and a woman's journey through pieces of 21st century culture as related to her, then you would enjoy this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Bhagan

    Thin Places by Jordan Kisner is a series of essays exploring diverse topics such as the author’s wrestling with her Christian faith, experiencing postmodern popup churches in Montauk, talking with Mormon mommy bloggers, and facing her own morbidity in the morgue when doing a story on forensic pathologists. Kisner is able to take an apparently mundane topic and dig into it like an archaeologist, searching for deeper truths. Sometimes she finds it; sometimes she doesn’t. If you’re into nonfiction Thin Places by Jordan Kisner is a series of essays exploring diverse topics such as the author’s wrestling with her Christian faith, experiencing postmodern popup churches in Montauk, talking with Mormon mommy bloggers, and facing her own morbidity in the morgue when doing a story on forensic pathologists. Kisner is able to take an apparently mundane topic and dig into it like an archaeologist, searching for deeper truths. Sometimes she finds it; sometimes she doesn’t. If you’re into nonfiction and longform essays, this is the book for you.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Thin Places: Essays from In Between Author: Jordan Kisner Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication Date: March 3, 2020 Review Date: November 4, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb; “In this perceptive and provocative essay collection, an award-winning writer shares her personal and reportorial investigation into America’s search for meaning. When Jordan Kisner was a child, she was saved by Jesus Christ at summer c Book Review: Thin Places: Essays from In Between Author: Jordan Kisner Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication Date: March 3, 2020 Review Date: November 4, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb; “In this perceptive and provocative essay collection, an award-winning writer shares her personal and reportorial investigation into America’s search for meaning. When Jordan Kisner was a child, she was saved by Jesus Christ at summer camp, much to the confusion of her nonreligious family. She was, she writes, “just naturally reverent,” a fact that didn’t change when she—much to her own confusion—lost her faith as a teenager. Not sure why her religious conviction had come or where it had gone, she did what anyone would do: “You go about the great American work of assigning yourself to other gods: yoga, talk radio, neoatheism, CrossFit, cleanses, football, the academy, the American Dream, Beyoncé.” A curiosity about the subtle systems guiding contemporary life pervades Kisner’s work. Her celebrated essay “Thin Places” (Best American Essays 2016), about an experimental neurosurgery developed to treat severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, asks how putting the neural touchpoint of the soul on a pacemaker may collide science and psychology with philosophical questions about illness, the limits of the self, and spiritual transformation. How should she understand the appearance of her own obsessive compulsive disorder at the very age she lost her faith? Intellectually curious and emotionally engaging, the essays in Thin Places manage to be both intimate and expansive, illuminating an unusual facet of American life, as well as how it reverberates with the author’s past and present preoccupations.” I know this is a very long blurb. I needed to include it all, because this book of essays is so complex and varied, that on my own, I would not be able to hint at what the book is like. This is one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read. For starters, the language itself is gorgeous. Jordan writes about so many different aspects of her life and I was thoroughly engaged throughout each of the essays. I highly, highly recommend this book. If you are intellectually curious, if you have a love of language, if you are fascinated by current day America, you must read this book. The author was new to me and I’m very grateful to have been introduced to her writing. I will search her out elsewhere. Thank you to FSG for allowing me an early look at this magnificent work. Good luck to Jordan on Thin Places and all her other writing. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #FSG #thinplaces #jordankusner

  17. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    Thin Places: Essays from In Between from Jordan Kisner is that rare collection where each essay makes an impact. While all collections are, by nature of being collections of separate entities, uneven this one is as as minimally uneven as any I have read in quite some time. I like essays, I read them a lot, whether in collections such as this or in various publications physical or virtual. I try to vary my expectations to suit what I am reading. Some are very instructive but don't necessarily make Thin Places: Essays from In Between from Jordan Kisner is that rare collection where each essay makes an impact. While all collections are, by nature of being collections of separate entities, uneven this one is as as minimally uneven as any I have read in quite some time. I like essays, I read them a lot, whether in collections such as this or in various publications physical or virtual. I try to vary my expectations to suit what I am reading. Some are very instructive but don't necessarily make a big personal impact. Some touch me because of some commonality but after some time they fade away (though I often revisit these). This collection touched me emotionally and intellectually, made me try to understand her and what she experienced, understand those she wrote about, and most importantly try to better understand myself based on those new insights. Perhaps the greatest gift this book offers is the gift of a new or renewed type of perspective. Many of the experiences will be both unknown to you while also seeming so familiar. You will likely, as I did, think about times in my past that might be roughly comparable, where those "thin places" are briefly exposed. Then it made me want to approach the future with a similar perspective, alert to the nuance of what is happening around me. Even more important, I think, is being more understanding in this new perspective. Of other people, of other ways of seeing and being in this world, and of what I might both gain and offer through this openness to those special "thin places." Whether they be evident in the moment or only through hindsight. I highly recommend this to any reader who likes to think about life, about what it means and how it means. Even if you don't usually read essays I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how these may speak to you. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Bendtsen

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The subject matter contained within the 13 essays of Jordan Kisner’s impressive debut collection Thin Places spans the gamut from an experimental brain surgery for OCD to the inner-workings of a patriotic debutante ball, even an Christian Evangelical group recruiting at clubs and pop-up services. While on the surface these things seem unrelated, Kisner uses her personal experiences and sharp insi Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The subject matter contained within the 13 essays of Jordan Kisner’s impressive debut collection Thin Places spans the gamut from an experimental brain surgery for OCD to the inner-workings of a patriotic debutante ball, even an Christian Evangelical group recruiting at clubs and pop-up services. While on the surface these things seem unrelated, Kisner uses her personal experiences and sharp insights to tie them together in a collection that explores American life in all its contradictory in-betweenness. In one section, Kisner eulogizes her childlike wonder and curiosity, remarking that she no longer sees possibility in, for instance, the overhead compartments of a 747. Ironically, Kisner’s writing in Thin Places stands out specifically because of the skill for observation she’s claimed to have lost; with each essay, she deftly uncovers the fascinating minutia and meaning hidden amongst the everyday things most take for granted or regard as mundane. I don't think most people can say that they've spent a lot of time thinking about autopsies, but Jordan Kisner has: thinking about them, researching them, and observing them--for months. And what she is able to mine from that time spent amidst the dead and those who are tasked with finding out how they ended up that way--it’s nothing short of fascinating, with deep, far-reaching implications for the living. In the midst of topics that threaten to veer into the grotesque and overly somber, Kisner reels us back in with moments of genuine humor. Even in the rare instances when Kisner’s search for meaning misses the mark, I still found myself quite happy to be included in the scenic narrative journey. Kisner, I’m sure, has more great writing in store, and I can’t wait to read it. 4 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    MCZ Reads

    In her essay “Soon This Place Will Be Too Small,” author Jordan Kisner writes of songwriter Lhasa de Sela “... she was special, one of those people with a fingertip pressed to the universal pulse. When you hear her voice you can tell.” This is also a fitting description of the author herself. Like a literary haruspex, she gets the guts out of the nooks and crannies of each subject and interprets the truth at the heart of the essay. While each essay stands strongly on its own, this collection hig In her essay “Soon This Place Will Be Too Small,” author Jordan Kisner writes of songwriter Lhasa de Sela “... she was special, one of those people with a fingertip pressed to the universal pulse. When you hear her voice you can tell.” This is also a fitting description of the author herself. Like a literary haruspex, she gets the guts out of the nooks and crannies of each subject and interprets the truth at the heart of the essay. While each essay stands strongly on its own, this collection highlights the connections between the subjects and expands upon material mentioned in an earlier piece. The writing is beautiful, the arrangement is brilliant, and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! As a big fan of essay collections, I was excited to pick this up despite not being familiar with the author. The writing in this collection is calm, quiet, and often lyrical. Kisner takes on multiple thought-provoking topics related to philosophy, religion, and modern culture. The pacing of the collection was well done, with shorter pieces mixed in amongst longer, more engrossi Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! As a big fan of essay collections, I was excited to pick this up despite not being familiar with the author. The writing in this collection is calm, quiet, and often lyrical. Kisner takes on multiple thought-provoking topics related to philosophy, religion, and modern culture. The pacing of the collection was well done, with shorter pieces mixed in amongst longer, more engrossing essays. A wonderful read if you enjoy essay collections, non-fiction, or long form articles!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    6 out of 5. A revelation. Where last year's fav essay collection (Jia Tolentino's) TRICK MIRROR was a lens held to our narcissistic natures, THIN PLACES is a celebration of curiosity, of self-discovery. It is a reminder that there is still so much to know, out there. That it is okay to be curious, it is okay to change your mind, it is okay to not know something and try to find an answer for it. And Kisner (disclosure: a close friend) is a perfect guide. Her voice is warm, individual, and care-fu 6 out of 5. A revelation. Where last year's fav essay collection (Jia Tolentino's) TRICK MIRROR was a lens held to our narcissistic natures, THIN PLACES is a celebration of curiosity, of self-discovery. It is a reminder that there is still so much to know, out there. That it is okay to be curious, it is okay to change your mind, it is okay to not know something and try to find an answer for it. And Kisner (disclosure: a close friend) is a perfect guide. Her voice is warm, individual, and care-full. I would trust her to take us anywhere and I have no doubt, over time, she'll take us everywhere.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amie Whittemore

    I heard Jordan read from her work in Charlottesville about four years ago and during that reading thought to myself, I cannot wait for this person to have a book. And now she does and it has lived up to my wild expectations! These essays are smart and honest, playful and wise, they weave observation and research with personal experience in ways that garnered insights, moments of pause and reflection. They are ordered in a way that creates stitches across the essays--even as they were written at I heard Jordan read from her work in Charlottesville about four years ago and during that reading thought to myself, I cannot wait for this person to have a book. And now she does and it has lived up to my wild expectations! These essays are smart and honest, playful and wise, they weave observation and research with personal experience in ways that garnered insights, moments of pause and reflection. They are ordered in a way that creates stitches across the essays--even as they were written at separate times, for separate occasions, they feel cohesive, thoughtfully arranged. I can't wait for her next book, though I will wait happily, as I know good art requires heaps of time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hart

    This is an excellent collection of essays about “thin places”—where boundaries are thin, where things are in flux, where you don’t feel settled. What a fascinating and relatable concept! Kisner gracefully covers everything from borders and history to religion and OCD, humbly searching for flares of happiness. Each piece is extraordinary, but my favorites were “Thin Places,” “Big Empty,” “A Theory of Immortality,” “Habitus,” and “The Other City.” I definitely want a copy of this when it comes out This is an excellent collection of essays about “thin places”—where boundaries are thin, where things are in flux, where you don’t feel settled. What a fascinating and relatable concept! Kisner gracefully covers everything from borders and history to religion and OCD, humbly searching for flares of happiness. Each piece is extraordinary, but my favorites were “Thin Places,” “Big Empty,” “A Theory of Immortality,” “Habitus,” and “The Other City.” I definitely want a copy of this when it comes out. Thanks, FSG and NetGalley, for the ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    "In thin places, the barrier between the physical world and the spiritual world wear thin and become porous." Jordan Kisner has undertaken an effort that is incredibly admirable, and executed it beautifully. Uncertainty and ambiguity have always been difficult areas for humans to navigate and we'll be grappling with them until the end of time. But this book is beautiful because it doesn't attempt to grab you by the hand and march you towards certainty, it beckons you towards the thin places, and "In thin places, the barrier between the physical world and the spiritual world wear thin and become porous." Jordan Kisner has undertaken an effort that is incredibly admirable, and executed it beautifully. Uncertainty and ambiguity have always been difficult areas for humans to navigate and we'll be grappling with them until the end of time. But this book is beautiful because it doesn't attempt to grab you by the hand and march you towards certainty, it beckons you towards the thin places, and asks how you feel being enveloped in them. In this stunning debut collection, Kisner masterfully sets the scene for each of these explorations into a variety of thin places, intelligently and intuitively using language to delicately weave a path through them, disturbing the edges just enough to make you reflect on the nature of thin places you may have visited. As we are plunging headfirst into a world that seems more divided than ever, works like this are becoming increasingly more important. Humanity has a terrible and insatiable desire to label everything and define everything as thoroughly as possible without relishing in the moments when we're unsure, when we experience something mystical, paranormal, inexplicable, or simply beautiful. We forget that we contain multitudes, that we are made up of everything that we experience and believe, that we don't have to reduce ourselves down to some essential element of our being, we are everything that we carry inside ourselves, even if we don't have a name for a feeling, or a way of even articulating it. It's ok, sit in that place in between and see if you can feel heaven reaching out from the other side. I'm excited to see what this author explores next.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Graciously received a free copy through first reads. I give this book a 3.5. Until the last couple of stories, I was going to give this book a 3, but I really enjoyed the Cleveland story and tattoo story. I enjoyed learning about newsworthy items while the author tied in her personal life to what she was learning. Stories that were solely about her bored me. Overall, decent book for being a collection of short stories which usually isn't something I'm into.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mallory Wassberg

    I was lucky enough to win this through a Goodreads giveaway and was so excited! I will start by saying, this is not the type of book I would normally read - essays aren’t really my thing. But I will say, I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Jordan Kisner has a knack for writing! These stories read very quickly and keep your attention the whole way through. Very thought provoking!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Stepanic

    An interesting assembly of stories & collected thought pieces that all loosely have in common the notion of being in the thin line of space in between two beliefs, definitions or realities. For me, a central connection or thoughtful observation on the significance of this “place” irregardless of instance would have helped ground the collection of essays more. Without, they each seem to float aimlessly separate and not always even with an author’s point of view. An interesting assembly of stories & collected thought pieces that all loosely have in common the notion of being in the thin line of space in between two beliefs, definitions or realities. For me, a central connection or thoughtful observation on the significance of this “place” irregardless of instance would have helped ground the collection of essays more. Without, they each seem to float aimlessly separate and not always even with an author’s point of view.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gabi Powell

    Review to come: “This I can tell you: when I came to your apartment for the first time, I recognized it. I knew, without knowing how, that I would never leave. These were bricks you had been laying without knowing it; this was the path my flares had been lighting. It was the beginning of a wobbly and joyful and occasionally gross carrying on, learning to come home to you, marked and myself.”

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I tracked this down because I loved her essay Jesus Raves that won a Pushcart a few years ago (and is also included here). My favorite new ones were Stitching, about Mormon women activists, and Backward Miracle, about tattoos.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bella

    My literary catnip: well-researched intellectual essays on a myriad of random topics. Kisner's writing is an absolute treasure -- highly recommend! Favorites: Habitus, The Other City, Phone Calls from the Apocalypse

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