The Pharmacist’s Mate

Originally published in literary hotshot Dave Eggers’ McSweeney’s publication, this short, non-fiction novel by New York newcomer Amy Fusselman packs quite an emotional wallop in a mere 85 pages.

Told in bare, simple prose, Fusselman’s moving memoir examines personal catharsis in riveting detail through her experience as a young married woman trying to get pregnant (via artificial insemination) at the same time she is dealing with the death of her beloved father from emphysema.

Buoyed by amusing pop culture references, like her inherent joy in playing AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” on guitar, Fusselman’s naturally curious voice is at once insightful and commonplace, with a warm-hearted honesty that quickly pulls the reader into a comfortable bond. This is a woman dealing with the inescapable details of the very beginning and end of life, as well as the deep imagination and emotions they trigger: “After he died, I saw that people and space are permeable to each other in a way that people and people are not. I saw that space is like water. People can go inside it.”

Originally from Ohio, Fusselman is a talent to watch; and her heart-rendered book—which includes here a new 15-page afterword about her subsequent nationwide promotional tour while six months pregnant—is a quick and potent read.