The Glass Eye
“Brilliant . . . As the pages fly by, we’re right by Vanasco, breathlessly experiencing her grief, mania, revelations, and—ultimately — her relief.” —Entertainment Weekly
A Poets & Writers’ Best Nonfiction Debut of 2017
A NYLON and Newsweek Editor’s Choice
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great Writers Pick
For fans of Maggie Nelson and Meghan O’Rourke, Jeannie Vanasco emerges as a definitive new voice in this stunning portrait of a daughter’s love for her father and her near-unraveling after his death.
The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn’t the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie’s struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died.
After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals—increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father.
Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.
The death of a parent is a stunning experience, and can upend even the most grounded soul. But what happens when the bereaved is already teetering on loose pins? How does a sensitive young writer make sense of life without a father to whom she was fiercely devoted? She writes him a book.
In The Glass Eye, Jeannie Vanasco remembers her father with great affection while turning an unflinching gaze of the insupportable grief that visits her upon his death. The book is a fascinating meditation on loss, and an enduring monument to what remains. Wise, brave and beautifully wrought, The Glass Eye signals the arrival of an exceptionally fine new voice.
—Alexandra Styron, author of READING MY FATHER
Jeannie Vanasco’s The Glass Eye is memoir as it ought to be, but so rarely is: beautiful and painfully raw, but also restrained and lyrical. Vanasco is brilliant, and this book proves it.
—Darin Strauss, author of HALF A LIFE
Every memoir is a reckoning with the past, but only the most skilled and courageous memoirist can simultaneously inhabit the story that haunts her and the story of her reckoning with equal urgency. In The Glass Eye, Jeanne Vanasco shows us why rules should be broken: because an elegy that pulses with immediacy, a fragment that is inextricable from a whole, a book that comments on its own writing can smash what you think you know into pieces, and expose a piece of truth so bright it might be your own broken heart, handed back to you.
—Melissa Febos, author of WHIP SMART & ABANDON ME
One month after going away to college, Jeannie Vanasco learned that her father had died, and with him his unconditional and sometimes all-consuming love for her. In The Glass Eye the writer asks, in prose that mesmerizes with geometric precision, how we can orient ourselves to the world when our only compass is grief. What begins as an experience of profound loss becomes an obsession, the fierce intensity of which propels readers through this breathtaking book.
—Lacy Johnson, author of THE OTHER SIDE
With The Glass Eye, Jeannie Vanasco has produced a debut of incisive vision. In prose as vivid as a novel and as chiseled as poetry, Vanasco shows the reader that memoir can entail an unexpected, ultimately liberating reckoning. Delving into her family’s traumatic and moving history, Vanasco unearths the true story of her late namesake Jeanne, her father’s enduring sorrows, and how both have informed her own often difficult personal journey.
—John Keene, author of COUNTERNARRATIVES