How to Walk Away
Fiction. After three years in Afghanistan, Otis is adjusting to life back home. Struggling with post- traumatic stress disorder, he obsessively replays the traumas of war, cataloging the names of the dead. Cat, his wife, is a genealogist who makes maps of families in an attempt to understand her world. When a car accident takes Otis's left arm, he is grateful to bear a physical loss that makes his damaged emotional self visible. As he recovers, he and Cat confront the silences upon which their marriage is built.
"Lisa Birman's cathartic, uncompromising look at the mind of a war veteran struggling with post-traumatic-stress and OCD is both harrowing and rhapsodic in turn. At the center of the book is the depiction of his relationship with his wife--all the light and shadow of daily life, the epic sense of separation, loss, paranoia, and homecoming. Birman's compassionate novel takes us behind closed doors into a world turned upside down but somehow familiar and totally real. HOW TO WALK AWAY belongs in the same company as Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Hannah Weiner's THE FAST."—Lewis Warsh, author of ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR
"HOW TO WALK AWAY is about coming home, often the hardest thing. Otis tells the reader: 'I know that numbers are dangerous. I know that letters are also numbers. I do what I can to steer around. Given the landscape. The history.' Lisa Birman's perfect book explores the secret byways of PTSD, the pandemic of our age. In original and powerful prose, circumnavigating surprises as they appear, it peels the layers of the onion until healing is within sight. This is the magnificent debut novel by a writer I know will give us many. Birman is a gorgeous storyteller with an ear for shaping language and a talent for creating people we learn to suffer with and love."—Margaret Randall, author ofChe On My Mind and About Little Charlie Lindbergh
"HOW TO WALK AWAY by Lisa Birman is an extraordinary book: at once a gripping, intense, grace-filled story, and a profoundly insightful mapping of minds grappling with the diamond-edged particularities of their complicated human conditions. I was struck by this novel's wisdom and the hard-won ease with which it wears it. A book to read slowly, to savor and to return to."—Laird Hunt, author ofNeverhome