Small Altars (Paperback)

Small Altars By Justin Gardiner Cover Image
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A book that bends time and fragments narrative.

In Small Altars, Justin Gardiner delves into the world of comic books and superheroes as a means for coming to terms with the many struggles of his brother’s life, as well as his untimely death, offering a lyric and honest portrayal of the tolls of mental illness, the redemptive powers of art and familial love, and the complex workings of grief.  

About the Author

Justin Gardiner is the author of Beneath the Shadow: Legacy and Longing in the Antarctic, as well as the poetry collection Naming the Lifeboat. He is a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University, and he serves as the nonfiction editor of The Southern Humanities Review.

Praise For…

“It’s been a long time since I've read a book as raw and honest, as staggeringly, shatteringly sad, and, too, as wise and life-affirming. With Small Altars, Justin Gardiner offers his late brother, himself, and all of us that great gift of attention, the hero’s favor of grace.”
— Joe Wilkins, author of Fall Back Down When I Die and When We Were Birds

“At its tender heart, Justin Gardiner’s Small Altars considers death, yes, but the life of fraternal bonds, illness, and separation—all placed on the psychic altars kept for loved ones. The figure of the superhero, the notion of the Endgame itself echoes throughout this haunted essay. Told in illustrative fragments and movements (like Debussy’s Claire de Lune), Small Altars elevates sound and reverberation from
block-written-as-panel to panel. Mixing chronology, research into mental illness and cancer, this essay’s blood circulatory system mirrors grief through its multivalent recurrences. In unassailable prose that only could be written by a poet, this tender reflection carves out space for two brothers that will endure well beyond these pages.”
— Rajiv Mohabir, author of Whale Aria

“This thoughtful portrait of remembrance and grief is like nothing I’ve read before. I devoured the book in a single sitting, so compelled was I by Justin Gardiner’s intelligent blend of research, introspection, pop-culture commentary, and family history. I hope you’ll forgive this pun, but Small Altars is indeed a marvel.”
— Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses

“In Justin Gardiner's deft hand, Small Altars explores one of life's most complicated relationships: brothers. In prose that sings and snaps, sentences that explore the small, intimate moments of life, Gardiner sustains an emotional throughline of exquisite beauty. Here we get childhood loves of the movies, of comic books, of superheros—but perhaps the greatest insight the reader will feel by the end is that ultimate gift: love, in all its complication, between two siblings.”
— Taylor Brorby, author of Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land
Product Details
ISBN: 9781961209060
ISBN-10: 1961209063
Publisher: Tupelo Press
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2024
Pages: 70
Language: English