A memoir of crossing cultures, losing love and finding home by a New York Times Notable author in her prime.
As steadily and quietly as her marriage falls apart, so Kyoko Mori’s understanding of knitting deepens. From the flawed school mittens made in her native Japan, where needlework is used as a way to prepare women for marriage and silence, to the beautiful unmatched patterns of cardigans, hats and shawls made in the American Midwest, Kyoko draws the connection between knitting and the new life she tried to establish in the U.S. From the suicide of her mother to the last empty days of her marriage, Kyoko finds a way to begin again on her own terms. Interspersed with fact and history about knitting throughout, the narrative touchingly contemplates the nature of love, loss and what holds a marriage together. In the tradition of M F K Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me, Joan Didion’s Where I Was From and Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire, Mori examines a specific subject to understand human nature - when to unravel, when to begin again, when to drop the stitch, and when to declare…it’s finished.
" ‘....knitting only appears to be a docile activity," writes Kyoko Mori in Yarn. While it is knitting that literally and metaphorically weaves together the disparate elements of Mori's life―her travels, her marriage and separation, her coming to knowledge of herself through tragedy and joy―it is the sheer beauty of her writing, at once elegantly restrained and emotionally unflinching, that so highly recommends this stunning memoir. Kyoko Mori is one of the world's most inimitable writers.”
– Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist and What Is Left The Daughter
“Kyoko Mori writes about loss so quietly and wisely, and in a way no other memoirist I’ve read has ever managed. She recasts her mother’s suicide and her father’s coldness—two terrible childhood absences—into possibilities for herself rather than limitations, openings instead of endings. But this beautiful book isn’t about acceptance so much as it’s about resourcefulness and creativity. There’s no advice here, only the moving example of Mori herself, knitting together her past and present into something coherent and useful, like a shawl, or a cardigan, or a pair of mittens, a way to keep warm in a world that can often be cold, a way to stay focused and engaged in a world that sometimes makes no sense at all.”
– Suzanne Berne, The Ghost at the Table, A Perfect Arrangement, A Crime in the Neighbourhood (Orange Prize for Fiction), and the forthcoming memoir Lucile: My Grandmother in History, and Vice Versa.
“Save reading Kyoko Mori’s Yarn for a day when your imagination needs a journey into enchantment. A dreamy weave of memoir and story that is also a droll cross-cultural history of knitting, spinning and weaving, this enthralling, utterly original book is a small masterpiece. I couldn’t put it down.
– Honor Moore, The Bishop’s Daughter
“Sit with Kyoko Mori as she artfully takes in hand needles and fiber, and also the realities of her life story, to knit this gorgeous memoir of loss, emigration, grief, identity and the work of her hands. The perfectly titled “Yarn” recounts the author’s most formative experiences, including losing her mother through suicide; emigrating from Japan; finding a life and a love in America’s frigid Midwest; discovering joy as a single person; and leaning on the healing power of creating both stories and knitted garments. Scenes and stories become stitches forming a shawl of stories that have draped the author’s life, and that will rest so memorably on the shoulders of readers fortunate enough to encounter this book.”
– Suzanne Strempek Shea,
Sundays in America: A Year-Long Roadtrip in Search of Christian Faith
About Kyoko Mori
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Published October 25, 2009
Biographies & Memoirs, Crafts, Hobbies & Home.