Dreadful Sorry: Essays on an American Nostalgia (pre-order)

By Jennifer Niesslein


A new collection of essays exploring class, whiteness, family, and nostalgia, for better and for worse. 

"I have a nostalgia problem, and I’m not the only American who does." So writes Jennifer Niesslein in the introduction to Dreadful Sorry. But what, exactly, is the problem? Having grown up living hand-to-mouth in small-town Pennsylvania and suburban Virginia, Niesslein is keenly aware of both past challenges and relative privilege. In this set of engaging, personal stories, Niesslein digs into how her own sense of self is rooted in nostalgic narratives of her upbringing and of American history writ large. With often wry candor, she address thorny questions of family trauma and the problematic calculus of "respectability politics"—as well as the lighter nostalgias offered by high school reunions and the plain fact of a long and enduring marriage. In an era of widespread re-evaluation of Confederate monuments and the apparatus of white supremacy, Niesslein aims to diligently scrub out nostalgia that casts the past in a rosy glow, while remaining open-hearted and hopeful that nostalgia—our shared longing for a lost time—can help illuminate our understanding of the present and point the way toward a better future.

Charming and frank, this suite of personal essays digs deep, offering truths that will resonate with readers across the spectrum curious about the persistence of memory and our collective longing for days gone by.

Jennifer Niesslein is the editor and founder of the website Full Grown People, editor of two FGP anthologies, and author of one memoir. Originally from western Pennsylvania, she lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Advance praise for Dreadful Sorry:

In this time of reckoning around race, the past, the present, and the future, Niesslein looks inward, and the result is a candid, unflinching, deeply personal meditation on whiteness, family, and history. These essays are revelatory, raw, and real, everything good storytelling should be. —Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

"Jennifer Niesslein’s fearless, beautiful “Dreadful Sorry” takes on American myths, childhood memories, family history, and ghosts personal and public with wit, love, and a journalist’s flair. “Dreadful Sorry” invites us to consider the nostalgia we create for future generations. This book is a wonder in all the best ways."Jessica Handler, author of The Magnetic Girl

Niesslein’s brilliant ancestral memoir is both searchingly personal and slyly political, and it asks the hardest questions about privilege and its haunting, murderous history. It's a book about longing for the past even as it’s also a meditation on the dangers of that very longing, and it’s also just a totally delightful read: wryly hilarious and candidly, quietly illuminating. I loved it. Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy and How to Be a Person 

FEBRUARY 2022 | ISBN: 978-1-953368-03-4 | ESSAYS | 5 x 7 | PAPERBACK | 126 PAGES



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