I was triggered. I was struck to my core — all kinds of overripe feelings and neglected memories shook loose — by Mary Laura Philpott, or more precisely, by her new masterwork, Bomb Shelter ... Just-fineness is not a register in which a writer like Philpott ...can dwell. And that’s where her genius comes in: Her book is about so much more. It’s about a certain kind of love that’s inextricably bound up with the fear of loss ... It is also a spot-on portrait of the complex melancholy of early middle age ... I want to say something negative about this book. To be this positive is, I fear, to sound like a nitwit. So, to nitpick: There’s some unevenness to the quality of the sentences in the final chapter. But there’s no fun in pointing that out; Philpott already knows. 'I’m telling this story now in present tense,' she writes. 'I’m still in it, not yet able to shape it from the future’s perspective.'
With Bomb Shelter, billed as a memoir in essays, Philpott brings us a beautifully wrought ode to life ... Philpott brings her own special blend of dread and hope to this treatise on the fragility of life ... She infuses her writing with an abundance of insight ... For good reason, Philpott has been compared to Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck and Anne Lamott ... Philpott can spin copy from the stuff of life with the best of them, aiming her talent at a new generation of mid-lifers, who could use a book that speaks to them. And like her antecedents, Philpott possesses that rare ability to dole out prose that’s equal parts comedy and pathos, tragedy and celebration ... We who walk the earth believing that all our good fortune could spontaneously combust at any moment are precisely those who will find Bomb Shelter as endearing as it is readable ... 'I am obsessed with death because I am in love with life,' Philpott writes. 'I’m sad because I’m so happy.' We hear you, Mary Laura. And know that your love affair with life, fraught as it is, is a precious gift to the world.
Philpott’s greatest gift as a writer is her ability to tell a story as if she is simply sharing the events of her day with a friend. A master of the timely digression, she is as skilled at handling painful subjects as she is offering hilarious glimpses inside her life and mind, and she often intersperses the two with great effect ... Readers will likely identify with many of her struggles, even as her comical take on reality allows them to temporarily forget their own ... Philpott has provided her readers a very sturdy bomb shelter indeed.
Philpott’s latest is a memoir of beautifully written, loosely linked essays in which she frankly and often humorously details the pitfalls of her anxiety ... Philpott’s eloquent investigation of parenting and family offers pleasure and comfort to anyone who has ever worried about someone they love.
Bomb Shelter is full of laugh-out-loud moments as Philpott weaves her recollections of growing up with present-day observations about her children’s adolescence. However, she is equally gifted in delivering heartbreaking moments ... Fans of Philpott’s previous essay collection...will find even more to love in Bomb Shelter. As Philpott grapples with anxiety, she seeks—and gives—comfort in the world around her ... Philpott’s openhearted joy and fear is relatable regardless of your parenting status—a reminder that, even amid the most frightening challenges, we are rarely alone.
Philpott’s greatest gift as a writer is her ability to tell a story as if she is simply sharing the events of her day with a friend. A master of the timely digression, she is as skilled at handling painful subjects as she is offering hilarious glimpses inside her life and mind, and she often intersperses the two with great effect ... Readers will likely identify with many of her struggles, even as her comical take on reality allows them to temporarily forget their own. And ultimately, though unable to quell her own fears completely, Philpott does manage to find some solace in the midst of the chaos ... Philpott has provided her readers a very sturdy bomb shelter indeed.
Amusingly fretful ... Philpott has a leg up in the Handwringers' Olympics even beyond her snappy sentences, disarming self-awareness and winning self-deprecation ... Mary Laura Philpott's funny, filigreed essays about her myriad anxieties amount to a proud defense of the worrywart.
These essays detail different parts of her life; many of them return to the day of the seizure, but there are tales of humor and heart even in relation to crisis ... Philpott gives words to feelings of worry that many readers can likely relate to, and she gives readers hope, not by offering solutions, but by telling them that they are not alone.
Philpott explores life’s pleasures and uncertainties in this wry if meandering collection of essays ... She searches for meaning in the noteworthy and the mundane, sleekly juxtaposing lamentations about her herniated discs...with deeply affecting reflections on such life-altering experiences as her son’s first seizure. She also humorously investigates her own contradictory nature ... Occasionally, though, she wanders down a winding path of tangential thoughts and unrelated asides ... While the scattershot narration can distract, Philpott draws readers back in with her philosophical and witty musings ... Rambling tendencies aside, this quirky work has a lot of heart.