Recommended Summer Reading –– Louise Erdrich, New York Times
“Gisleson writes with wit, warmth, and a spiritual devotion to books…Her search for purpose and connection amid chaos and loss permeates even the most heart-wrenching moments of The Futilitarians–and it’s what turns the book from a meditation on reading to a celebration of being.” –Jason Heller, NPR
Anne Gisleson had lost her twin sisters, been forced to flee her home during Hurricane Katrina, and watched cancer take the life of her beloved father. Before she met her husband, Brad, he had suffered his own trauma, losing his partner and the mother of his son to cancer in her early thirties. “How do we keep moving forward,” Anne asks, “amid all this loss and threat?” The answer: “We do it together.”
While forging their happiness, Anne and Brad found that their friends had been suffering their own crises: loved ones gone, rocky marriages, jobs lost or gained. Together they formed what they called the Existential Crisis Reading Group, jokingly dubbed “the Futilitarians.” From Epicurus to Tolstoy, from Cheever to Amis, they read and talked about the questions that dogged them most. In the year after her father’s death, these living-room gatherings in post-Katrina New Orleans helped Anne blaze a trail out of her well-worn grief and finally share the untold story of her family.
Written with wisdom, soul, and a playful sense of humor, The Futilitarians is a guide to living curiously and fully.
Anne Gisleson’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Oxford American, The Believer, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and has been selected for inclusion in several anthologies, including Best American Nonrequired Reading. Gisleson teaches at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and lives in New Orleans with her husband and their two sons. Discover More