I Will Not Leave You Comfortless: A Memoir

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I Will Not Leave You Comfortless: A Memoir

Skip to main content. Spanning one year of the author's life, I Will Not Leave You Comfortless is the intimate memoir of a young boy coming to consciousness in small-town Missouri. For Jeremy, the seeming security of family is at once and forever shaken by the life-altering events of that pivotal year.

Through tenderhearted, steadfast prose — redolent of the glories of outdoor life on the family farm — Jackson recalls the deeply sensual wonders of his rural Midwestern childhood — bicycle rides in September sunlight; the horizon vanishing behind tall grasses. With storytelling informed by profound sense of place and an emotional memory remarkably sound, Jackson stands poised to join the ranks of renowned memoirists the likes of Tobias Wolff.

Readers young and old will be charmed and transformed by his unforgettable coming-of-age tale.


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A Good Party Deep Her Existing Sixteen Journal Entries from. Normally We Got Normal Milk Under the Summer Sun Jackson is also the author of young adult novels under the name of Alex Bradley, and cookbooks including, The Cornbread Book , which was nominated for a James Beard Award. He writes about food for the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.

In His Own Words. We raised cattle and hay and had a garden the size of Texas. At various times we had horses, cattle, a pig, sheep, chickens, ducks, and a pony. We ate a lot of these animals, but not the pony.

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We also had wild blackberries and persimmons and walnuts on our farm. And a pear tree. And we caught fish in our ponds.

We ate some of them, too. For some crazy reason, I headed off to Vassar College, thinking that I would become a writer. Unfortunately, I did. It was all downhill from there, though the sex was good.


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From Vassar I went straight into the Iowa Writers'' Workshop, where I wrote brilliant stories about bunnies, marbles, and a talking mailbox named Ruth. Then I spent a year writing a novel and a screenplay. Then I went and taught English back at Vassar for two years. Being a professor was a mind-numbing experience, though the sex was good. I quit that job and started being a writer full time, which was very much like being a writer part time except that it took a lot more time and I felt much more guilty when I didn''t write anything.

I Will Not Leave You Comfortless

I moved from Poughkeepsie back to Iowa, which is kind of like moving from the outer circles of hell to the Garden of Eden. He grew up in rural Missouri and had a mostly happy childhood, unspoiled by the drug addictions, abuse, or financial hardship we''ve come to expect from the genre. His focus, instead, is on the ordinary hard times we''ve almost all faced--the death of a loved one, the fade of a fledgling romance.

And yet he evokes the events with a bittersweet clarity, expansive tenderness, and uncommon wisdom that transforms the everyday into the sacred and the personal into the universal. He lost his innocence. Here, Jackson talks about unboxing his childhood memories, not seeing the weather, and almost getting married in fourth grade. Milkweed Editions: In the memoir, you take the freshman composition maxim "write what you know" to a whole new level. How did you remember the past with such clarity? Jeremy Jackson: I wrote Comfortless in part as a way to discover and understand a fuller version of the family''s story than I understood at the time, as a boy.

Sort of a "write what you know" plus "write toward what you want to know.


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  • Luckily, I had access to a trove of family documents from the time I was writing about. My most important sources included items like my family''s daily calendars, my grandmother''s journals, and dozens of dated and labeled photographs.

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    But I had many, many more things, like a tape recording of my grandmother''s funeral, my sister''s journal, notes girls at school had written to me, and the notepad that sat at my grandmother''s hospital bedside for months. Additionally, my parents were excellent sources, because they recalled many events that I wasn''t even present for. So my research helped immensely in recreating a fuller version of the family story than I remember. While writing Comfortless , what was a once-lost childhood memory you unearthed that was especially pleasurable to remember?

    There''s hardly a page of the book at least the ones where I am present that doesn''t have some tidbit that I retrieved from the deep reaches of memory. The time our little black cat rode on top of the car to town, for example.