Award-winning professor and author Phyllis Weliver was in the first wave to fall ill with long COVID. Moving from the city to a woodland cottage above a Michigan lake in order to regain health, Weliver reflects on the process of integrating mind/body health with the natural world. As she recovers from long-haul COVID, the author draws inspiration from forest bathing, traditional Odawa and Ojibwe culture, ancient Chinese philosophy, and British and American literature.
While this memoir may be of special interest to those dealing with chronic illness, Weliver’s narrative ultimately addresses how we might all mend from the bruising pace of modern life.
“It is a book of reverie and vital information, in equal measure, in a search for equilibrium. …Throughout, Phyllis Weliver’s writing is alert yet pleasurably digressive, following lightly trodden paths of natural and cultural history.” – DEVIN JOHNSTON, author of Mosses and Lichens,a New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2019
Weliver, an English professor, contracted Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic. This changed everything for this former workaholic, forcing her to slow down and reconsider the balance between mental health and modern life. Inspired in part by the Odawa and Ojibwe culture of her home state of Michigan, as well as Lao Tzu’s teachings on the elements, Weliver structures her memoir by focusing each chapter on a specific symbol tied to an animal or legend while tackling an individual challenge of life with long Covid. The result is a kaleidoscope of experiences, readings, reminiscences, and challenges to everyday thinking, offering much for inquisitive readers to relate to. Michiganders particularly will appreciate the paeans to the state’s beauty and history.
The Arrow Tree also offers a moving account of the shifting difficulties of the pandemic on all aspects of American life: quarantine, remote learning, impromptu homeschooling, and more. Weliver draws welcome attention to the long-term physical and emotional effects of Covid-19, describing how, months after she survived the virus, she still can sink into a multi-day malaise after a grueling 20-minute walk. Part pandemic memoir, part poetic reflection, The Arrow Tree is as edifying as it is emotional.
Takeaway: The lessons of the natural world shine in this lyrical and moving account of surviving Covid-19.
Great for fans of: Mary Oliver, Henry David Thoreau.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+
"Her prose ... invites curiosity and encourages insight that is, at times, breathtaking and joyous. This ... memoir points its readers in the direction of a safe passage to the home of our natural world, where, in finding union with that world, we may experience healing not only from COVID but from habits of the heart that have left us more broken than we know.” Full review linked below.
NTERLOCHEN PUBLIC RADIO
"The Arrow Tree is [a] beautifully crafted, pertinent memoir.” - host Aaron Stander
In this edition of Michigan Writers on the Air, Phyllis Weliver discusses and reads from The Arrow Tree: Healing from Long COVID. Broadcast 1pm, Nov 19, 2021 on IPR News Radio.
Subterranean Books, St Louis, Missouri. In-store event. Mask required.