The Crying Book is a stunning work, a constellation of prose poems that plumb the depths of crying: how it feels, why it matters, and, perhaps most importantly, what it means ... Christle sets out to understand the significance of crying in every possible human context, adopting social, historical, and biological lenses to conduct her inquiry. Christle deftly balances her roles as researcher and research subject ... It is Christle, our own weeping subject, that makes The Crying Book so affecting. She studies tears tenderly, even intimately, motivated by a heartfelt desire to understand. What could have easily been a dry but informative volume on crying and its many meanings becomes a more holistic portrait of crying ... she proves to be a graceful navigator across that sea of tears, charting a path full of discoveries and arresting observations.
... my expectations were properly shattered ... Christle’s piece is a gorgeous, meditative account of crying in all its forms, both individual and collective ... Christle probes at the edges of what is acceptable in our world ... Formally, the book is simple, quiet, but complex. The work progresses in a series of short vignettes—singular stories, but also forming a whole. Often Christle will shift from the individual to the collective from one paragraph to the next, widening or narrowing the aperture of her focus to encapsulate the entire cosmos, or hone in on a personal memory ... The most profound are the moments she speaks directly about herself ... But perhaps it’s her formal structure that is the most compelling. Strung together like a little strand of pearls, each piece functions as its own little emotional event, but as a whole they’re all the same. Much like how every time you cry it’s for a different reason, but the feeling of being on the precipice of tears never changes. Formally, Christle has achieved just that: an intense and moving catalog of tears, of stanzas ... [Christle] has made the amorphous take shape, woven the personal into the analytical, borne witness to something we choose to shrug off ... Bearing witness to both the physicality and emotionality of crying, Christle’s sermon is analytical, elegiac. A watercolor painting. I’m reminded of Mary Poppins’ chalk illustrations, washed away by rain. The colors cohering into something altogether new, sadder, full of sorrow.
... peculiar and indelible ... [Christle] conveys her beliefs and suspicions in discrete paragraphs of text, quoting lines of poetry, personal correspondence, psychological studies. (Writers like Maggie Nelson and Sarah Manguso are distinguished practitioners of the form.) Some sections are as short as a sentence; almost all open up new possibilities for inquiry ... 'Tears are a sign of powerlessness,' Christle writes, 'a ‘woman’s weapon.’' Another writer might have left it at that, but Christle keeps the sentence wriggling without letting it off the hook.