Sallie Tisdale is the author of seven books on such varied subjects as medical technology, her pioneer ancestors, and Buddhist women teachers. Her many essays have appeared in Harper’s, Conjunctions, The New Yorker, Antioch Review, Threepenny Review, and many other journals. This first collection of work spans thirty years, and includes an introduction and brief epilogues to each essay. Tisdale’s questing curiosity pursues subjects from the biology of flies to the experience of working in an abortion clinic, why it is so difficult to play sports with men, and whether it’s possible for writers to tell the truth. She restlessly returns to themes of the body, the family, and how we try to explain ourselves to each other. She is unwilling to settle for easy answers, and finds the ambiguity and wonder underneath ordinary events. The collection includes a recent essay, never before published, about the mystery of how we present ourselves to each other and whether it is possible to know even our own inner lives.
Most Anticipated, Too: The Great 2016 Nonfiction Book Preview
The great essayist Sallie Tisdale has been unjustifiably flying under the radar for years. Fortunately the The New Yorker recently did a profile on Tisdale, a reassessment of her importance, calling her work an antecedent to Eula Biss’ On Immunity,...Forward
Portland writer Sally Tisdale is one of Oregon’s true literary treasures. She’s the author of eight books, but she is first and foremost an essayist—someone who can make art out of her process of trying to make sense of the world. She spoke...Forward
Books that should have gotten more buzz and into the hands of more readers this year
I love me a good essay collection, and Violation is now one of my favorites. Tisdale can find meaning anywhere and in anything: one of the best essays in this...Forward
A new collection of essays by Sallie Tisdale, who began writing during her off-hours from work as a nurse, captures her adeptness at exploring the complexities of caregiving.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BETTMAN / GETTY
Two decades ago, Sallie Tisdale...Forward
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
The essays in ‘Violation’ are all lushly written and teeming with memory and insight.
Who wrote it?
Award winning mega-essayist, Sallie Tisdale.
Invent a new title for this book:...Forward
Adam McIsaac with a cover comp of Sallie Tisdale’s essay collection, Violation, on shelves April 1, 2016.
I’ve long admired Sallie Tisdale’s essays, and this collection brandishes her impressive strengths: she’s complicit without being woebegone, she’s philosophical without being windy or airy, and she’s empathetic without being hand-wringing.
- David Shields
- Author of Life Is Short --Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity
Sallie Tisdale possesses one of the most companionable and inquisitive voices in contemporary American nonfiction. She is guided by a restless, humane intelligence. And her range! Who else can write about Moray eels and obscene phone calls, about the harrowing work of firefighters and the dreamy effects of laughing gas, all the while unearthing the deeper meanings of the world around us? Mortality, desire, love, loss: these are Tisdale’s underlying subjects, and in Violation, she brings them to life with bracing clarity and unfailing insight.
- Bernard Cooper
- Author of The Bill From My Father
In essay, memoir, and literary journalism, Sallie Tisdale writes with fierce and finely-tuned attention to what she calls “ordinary things, the journey of grime and wonder through the world.” Abortion, elephants, female identity, family history, eating and dieting, her Buddhist view of living and dying, her work as an oncology nurse, the ethics of writing nonfiction—whatever her focus, she is never content with an easy resolution or anything less than the most nuanced, most honest, most finely-crafted account she is capable of. Readers may not always agree with her, but they will know they’ve been in the company of an articulate intelligence thinking out loud in graceful and incisive prose.
- John Daniel
- Author of Rogue River Journal and Looking After
That Sallie Tisdale’s a treasure comes as no secret to lovers of the essay, and yet this happy gathering that spans the decades is revelatory, a fascinating look at the epic wanderings of a life mapped by curiosity. Here we get elephants and houseflies, diets and fires, birth and the debris of death, all the mixed and messy vitality of family life. We travel far and we travel wide, but in the end we circle home to Tisdale herself, vulnerable and available, intimate and encouraging, our guide and our friend, her questioning presence lighting the way and celebrating it all, every little step in life’s saga, one lovely sentence at a time.
- Charles D'Ambrosio
- Author of Loitering: New and Collected Essays
Sallie Tisdale’s Violation is a writer’s bible and a reader’s best friend. Bold and wise, galvanizing and grounding, Tisdale’s essays are propulsive and frightening in their poignance and content. This is the essay collection you’ll want to have with you on that hypothetical desert island.
- Chloe Caldwell
- Author of Legs Get Led Astray and Women
Sallie Tisdale is the real thing, a writer who thinks like a philosopher, observes like a journalist and sings on the page like a poet; in other words, the consummate and perfect essayist. She knocked my socks off when I first discovered her decades ago and now, reading this collection, I realize I haven’t found them since. Violation contains important work from an important writer. I’m so glad it’s out in the world.
- Meghan Daum
- Author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion
I read Sallie Tisdale and within a few sentences I am under her spell. It matters not whether she’s writing about the tyranny of weight loss, the startling lives of blow flies, or what it’s like to work in an oncology ward (she is a dedicated nurse as well as a brilliant writer), I’m all in, all the time. I will go anywhere she wants to take me. An alternate image—climbing into a submarine with Tisdale at the controls and diving down down down, into her singular sensibility, her genius for language, her love of our deeply imperfect world.
- Karen Karbo
- Author of Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life
Compassion and empathy inform these gracefully wrought essays.
Throughout the collection, an ethos of self-effacement and clear-eyed commitment to her subjects seems to embody this tenet, even though Tisdale knows that writing and self-effacement are mutually exclusive. Nothing is objective, no matter how hard she labors to make it seem so. She is haunted by her failures of truth and objectivity. “Only I know how carefully I’ve held the light so that the shadows fall just so,” she says. “Artlessness is one of the most difficult effects of all.”
- Katie Pelletier, The Portland Mercury
Sallie Tisdale’s lovely essays shouldn’t exist given that they perfectly capture the impossibility of writing.
- Katy Waldman, Slate
The “perfume” of Sallie Tisdale’s work will be enticing to all readers enamored of the essay form.
- Lee Polevoi, Foreword Reviews
A career-defining book. Her essays unfold their subjects and stories with remarkable precision ...the writing itself, at once tender and assured.
- Laura Marsh, The New Yorker
Violation, a career-spanning essay collection…this is a goldmine, a windfall of finely-tuned essays that manage to maintain a certain spontaneity. The title essay, and the book’s centerpiece, is perhaps among the greatest essays about truth in nonfiction ever written.
- Joshua James Amberson
Her sentences are astounding, somehow elegant and earthy both. An essay is a place to spend time in somebody else’s head listening to their thoughts, and Tisdale’s mind is a fascinating place to be.
- Rebecca Hussey, Bookriot
Portland writer Sally Tisdale is one of Oregon’s true literary treasures.
- Oregon Public Broadcasting, Think Out Loud