I performed a speedy pre-scan of Beth Ann Fennelly’s 52 micro-memoirs, Heating and Cooling. I stopped at page 63. The word Beyoncé caught my eye at the top right-hand side of the page. I knew this book and I would be great friends. I was curious to see where America’s national treasure would show up in Fennelly’s life.
I was surprised to find Beyoncé tucked between the lines of
Fennelly’s memoir, “The Neighbor, The Chickens, and The Flames.” It’s a short, fascinating read about a rogue
chicken, stolen eggs, a chicken coop caught on fire, and the brief mention of a
I devoured Fennelly’s memoirs. I read the book over again. I enjoyed myself. Why not?
It was like having drinks at the bar with a good friend—you know, the
fun one. The one who always has a story
to tell. You sit behind the bar in a
tall chair, one hand cupping the thick wet glass of a cold pint, legs crossed, facing
her, phone in purse, never touched during time spent together. It isn’t needed because this is Beth Ann.
She takes you to a game of pool in a biker bar, to
Barcelona, to a living room where she discusses false teeth with her father-in-law,
to her nail salon, her bed post, her marriage, her children—yes, even marriage
and children, which can be so incredibly boring in Facebook posts, become
entertainment when Fennelly shares them.
You snort, almost spitting out your beer when she tells you
about the dead cat in plastic wrap next to the vodka in her friend’s
It’s not always fun and games. Sometimes you get serious, as close friends
do. She recalls the strained confession
of the words “I love you” to her father.
Those words were hard to say. You
lean in close, touch her arm, you’ve been there too.
But then she shakes
the heaviness of the moment off with an eye-roll of a story about the
“commodification of art,” and some other small grievance about an obnoxious
“rival poet” she remembers from grad school. Other writers can be so
I drank all of Heating
and Cooling in. Over-served—52
rounds. I stumbled home—giddy, warm,
smiling. Happy to have had the honor of
a riot of a time with Beth Ann.