An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

A Memoir


By Elizabeth McCracken

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“This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending,” writes Elizabeth McCracken in her powerful, inspiring memoir. A prize-winning, successful novelist in her 30s, McCracken was happy to be an itinerant writer and self-proclaimed spinster. But suddenly she fell in love, got married, and two years ago was living in a remote part of France, working on her novel, and waiting for the birth of her first child.

This book is about what happened next. In her ninth month of pregnancy, she learned that her baby boy had died. How do you deal with and recover from this kind of loss? Of course you don’t — but you go on. And if you have ever experienced loss or love someone who has, the company of this remarkable book will help you go on.

With humor and warmth and unfailing generosity, McCracken considers the nature of love and grief. She opens her heart and leaves all of ours the richer for it.

  • "This is an intimate book....It is also a wildly important book." 

    Los Angeles Times
  • "A beautifully written book....It is, on the one hand, an incisive look at grief and the terrible weight of memory. But it's also a love story-a paean to McCracken's husband and both of their children."
    Boston Globe
  • "The best memoirs transcend their particulars, offer a fresh look at the bumpy terrain of sorrow, love, youthful folly, aged folly, resilience, and selfhood. McCracken's is one of those."
    Washington Post
  • "... Elizabeth McCracken does not howl out her loss. She is devastatingly calm and in this matches measure for measure her own fine writing. By the end of this memoir you will have held a beautiful child in your hands and you will have acknowledged him. This book is an extraordinary gift to us all."
    Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon
  • "A fascinating, word-perfect and bittersweet memoir."
    Elinor Lipman, Miami Herald
  • "What an extraordinary book - joy and sorrow all mixed together on every page. Elizabeth McCracken is amazing."
    Mameve Medwed, author of Of Men and Their Mothers
  • "... McCracken writes with such clarity and immediacy ...a writer who rises to the human complexity of grief with all her powers, and all her heart."
    Mark Doty, author of Dog Years
  • "Reading it is a mysteriously enlarging experience. It could pair neatly with Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking: it's hard to imagine two more rigorous, unsentimental guides to enduring the very bottom of the scale of human emotion."
    Lev Grossman, Time
  • " is a triumph of her will and her writing that she has turned her tragedy into a literary gift."
    PW (Starred Review)

On Sale
Feb 22, 2010
Page Count
208 pages
Back Bay Books

Elizabeth McCracken

About the Author

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of The Giant’s House, which was nominated for the National Book Award; Niagara Falls All Over Again, winner of the PEN/Winship Award; and Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry, a collection of stories. She has received grants and awards from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy in Berlin.

Learn more about this author