Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Lisa Dordal
Next Time You Come Home
Lisa Dordal, author
In NEXT TIME YOU COME HOME, Lisa Dordal distills one hundred eighty letters she received from her mother over a twelve-year period (1989-2001) into short, meditative entries that reflect upon motherhood, marriage, grief, the beauty of the natural world, same-sex relationships, and the passage of time. The final entries are something between letters and poems—not fully letters and not fully poems but, instead, their own thing—and portray a mother who, despite her alcoholism, maintains an engaged and compassionate presence in the world, one nourished by intellectual curiosity, life-long relationships with family and friends, and active involvement in a religious community.
Dordal (author of Mosaic in the Dark) dives into fruitful genre-bending territory with this collection of “something between letters and poems,” derived from a selection of letters written by her late mother in the last eighteen years of her life. Rather than transcribe the letters word for word, Dordal shapes excerpts into brief poems that offer an intimate, authentic glimpse into the later life of Milly Dordal and touchingly emphasize “that ‘small’ moments are not small at all; they are everything we have.”

Dordal distilled letters from her mother written between 1983 and 2001, and Milly’s pained references to the era’s historical disruptions, such as the beating of Rodney King and the first Persian Gulf War, have jolting, plainspoken power: “The Thomas hearings really upset me— / all those white male faces discounting Hill’s testimony. / I’m sorry he was confirmed. She’s the victim, not him.” These observations, preserved, connect past to present with startling clarity. They also remind readers of what has been lost when our records of our thoughts are stored on the servers of social media companies rather than in hand-written correspondence. What results is at times a double-edged grief, for the loss of Milly herself as well as for earlier, more permanent and personal methods of communication.

In the poem-letter “October 1992” Milly speaks to a truth that’s only gotten more so in the last thirty years: “there’s too much to take in.” Yet she strives to take it all in anyway, placing equal importance on inflection points in history, her daughter’s gym shoes, the heartening sight of an oriole “alight”ing on her back porch. In Dordal’s selections, the distinctions between trivial and profound dissolve, the results stirring refreshed appreciation for all moments in life, whether an adventure in cooking, an adventure across the world, or the kind of aching outrage any of us feel facing the news. All of it matters because all of it is part of our fragile, extraordinary existence.

Takeaway: Poignant epistolary collection sculpted from letters from the poet’s late mother.

Comparable Titles: Emma Reyes’s The Book of Emma Reyes, James Shuyler’s “A Stone Knife,” Evie Schuyler’s “From the Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass.”

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A