The Miles Between Me
by Toni Nealie
In her debut essay collection, New Zealand native Toni Nealie examines journeys, homelands, family, and motherhood. She details humiliating confrontations with airport security, muses on the color brown, and intimately investigates her grandfather’s complicated and criminal past, all while hearkening home—wherever and whatever that is.
PRAISE FOR THE MILES BETWEEN ME:
"The Miles Between Me is so staggeringly intimate, it feels a bit like viewing an autopsy through a Go-Pro. With a deft hand and a knack for piercing details, the Chicago author examines the death of her familiar New Zealand surroundings, her stillborn life in America, and the miles between as two continents and identities clash together in a surprising rebirth."
—Chicago Review of Books
"The poetic prose in The Miles Between Me constructs a flawless window by which the author allows us to peer out upon her profound experiences as an immigrant, on otherness, on family, on race, secrets, illness, parenting, food, and so much more. But as with all great collections of essays, Nealie's masterful words transcend her own story—they go beyond the self-importance of "I" and somehow become about "Us," as she gracefully hands us a mirror to reflect upon our own humanity. Toni Nealie is fast becoming one of my favorite contemporary essayists."
—Sam Weller, award-winning biographer of The Ray Bradbury Chronicles
"Nealie is both profound and poetic; a brilliant thinker. Reflecting on her own experience stepping from one country to another, one life to another, she writes: "Books can't really tell you how to chart your emotional terrain, how to circumnavigate the currents of loss and longing." For me, The Miles Between Me did just that. It challenges us to examine our very own heart."
—Megan Stielstra, author of Once I Was Cool
“These essays travel far—from New Zealand to Chicago to India—charting, all the way, tangled origins, colonial legacies, the intricate shadings of truth and mythology. With warmth, curiosity, and lyrical intelligence, Toni Nealie keenly parses out the very human reverberations of dispersal, rupture, unraveling, and arrival.”
—Peggy Shinner, author of You Feel So Mortal
"These lovely essays of exile and home explore the inner life—what the author calls “our internal night music.” Each piece unfolds slowly and moves to unexpected terrain, like life itself often does. This is a moving meditation on womanhood, motherhood, sisterhood, and how the self and “the other” depend on who is looking, and from which direction."
—Aviya Kushner, author of The Grammar of God
"[Toni Nealie] takes her reader through lush landscapes, gives us glimpses into life in New Zealand, and brings us directly into her home, into her garden. Her writing is evocative and meditative, asking the reader to question the world she lives in, we live in, right alongside her as she questions it."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Toni Nealie is a writer, journalist, and teacher living in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Guernica, The Prague Review, The Offing, The Rumpus, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She worked in magazines, politics, and public relations in the U.K and her native New Zealand before moving to the U.S.—two weeks before 9/11. She holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago.
Publication Date: April 2016