White elephants are the odd, old, and discarded things that end up at yard sales and flea markets—and Katie Haegele loves them all. Well, an awful lot of them, anyway. She lives a few blocks from the house she grew up in, and every summer she and her mother scour the neighborhood tag sales, looking for treasure. In this unusual, touching memoir, she chronicles the places they go and the things they find there, describing every detail in her singular, charming voice. In the end she finds more than just ugly table lamps and frilly aprons, ultimately discovering a real friendship with her mother, a deeper connection to her father, whose death left a hole in her life—and even a bit of romance.
"Katie Haegele's writing is a miracle. No matter how grumpy you've gotten, White Elephants will inspire you to turn your days into adventures again—whether or not that includes looking through weird shit on other people's lawns."
—Ariel Gore, author of Atlas of the Human Heart and The End of Eve
"This charmingly curious book...will have you thinking you are listening to a soothing friend. Perhaps Katie Haegele might be a unique, American version of Sylvia Smith."
—Tama Janowitz, author of Slaves of New York
”Katie's smart like this…smart about the insides of people's lives and the retro-contemporary nostalgia of bygones and medleys I've never heard of. White Elephants is about the trips Katie takes with her widowed mom to yard sales and the things they buy—things like weird wicker belts, working typewriters, grandmother quality dresses, foldable purses, vintage stationery (the good, the bad, and the ugly), fashion plates. It's about how her own apartment absorbs the after stuff of others, and how it defines her, in many ways, and releases her from the thing she will never, through all the digging, find: her dad, who died of cancer when Katie was still a college student. White Elephants is also about a boy named Joe, who loves what Katie loves, and about a power outage after a storm in Nova Scotia, and about swimming in your underwear, and about getting past the migraine. It's earthy and near in its language, a conversation Katie has, a book so small and lovingly made that you can hold it in the palm of your hand.”
—Beth Kephart, author of National Book Award Finalist A Slant of the Sun: One Child’s Courage
Slip of the Tongue
Slip of the Tongue is a love letter to words and the myriad and contradictory ways we use them. Author Katie Haegele is a respected memoirist who makes sense of the world around her by looking at the ways we use language: to communicate, to make art, and simply to survive. She takes us through her life by describing her family’s rich linguistic history and her own coming of age as a feminist and an artist, and introduces us to her hometown of Philadelphia, a city lively with graffiti, poetry, and the remnants of its colonial heritage. She connects history to the present with research, interviews, and musings on digital technology and the contemporary state of the English language. As bawdy and brainy as it is heart-warming, Slip of the Tongue is a celebration of humanity in all its complicated beauty. Haegele's tone is personal and conversational—she is able to explore her subjects with both intellectual vigor and a lot of heart. Her memoir takes the usually inaccessible academic subject of linguistics and joyfully breaks it open for all of us to see and marvel at.
"...honest and generous, & alive to the transcendent possibilities of language."—Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue!
From dissections of slang words to lyrical meditations on supposedly untranslatable foreign-language terms, Slip of the Tongue, Katie Haegele's delightful collection of personal essays on language, gave me page-turning hours of sheer word-pleasure. —The poet Lynn Levin, Philadelphia Inquirer
cats i’ve known
From deep friendships to brief encounters, this is the story of the cats in Katie Haegele's life, or rather the story of her life in relation to the many cats she meets in Philadelphia's streets, alleys, houses, apartments, and bookstores. Through Haegele's sharp, wise, and at times hilarious gaze, we see cats for what they truly are: minor deities that mostly ignore the human foibles being played out around them. They accept our offerings with equanimity and occasionally bestow some nice thing on us. Haegele, author of White Elephants and Slip of the Tongue, has a unique and compelling sensibility, and it's a treat to see the world through her eyes as she shows us all the meanness, weirdness, and vulnerability of humans, against an ever-shifting backdrop of the cats we often take for granted, and who ignore us all democratically in return.
“Katie’s known a lot of cats, and so have I. And if you’ve known a lot of cats too, then you know that each cat has her own unique and magical story. Cats I’ve Known captures that sentiment in an honest and heartfelt style, paired with beautiful illustrations. ”— Lil BUB
"Readers are sure to find at least one cat among those featured whose story and antics appeal or bring back memories of their own feline encounters. The conversational narrative fits well with the relaxed mood of the stories." —Library Journal
"Writer and zine maker Haegele muses on 44 cats she’s lived with, met, or heard about in brief, sweet essays charmingly illustrated by Trista Vercher....The best entry centers on Trixie, a “little black cat” who lived with the author for 14 years; Haegele offers a loving personality sketch and tribute to her longtime feline companion filled with quirky details such as how she used to tape bird photo “pin-ups” near Trixie’s favorite lounging spot." —Publishers Weekly
"Sometimes, the cats are the stars, and sometimes, they're just bit players. Through them we meet Haegele's friends and family, her Philly neighborhoods (wonderful evocations here of life on the block), and her world of DIY bookmaking, 'zine conventions, reading tours, essays, poetry, funky bookstores, bars, and rock shows. ... Haegele has a humorous, self-deprecating voice ("I walked quietly, my mind full of nonsense as always"), conversational, then - blam! - the arresting image (one house is "loud with silence") or clause ("that dirty kind of longing you feel when you don't get to make peace with something"). ... Cats teach us about death, grief, longing, the solitary life, and the fugitive nature of contentment. Cats are connected to love, disappointment, loss, and frustration. ... This book liberally shares her pleasure and gratitude for them." —Philadelphia Inquirer
"Have you ever known a cat who mattered so much to you, or who was so ubiquitous, you couldn’t imagine a life without them? Katie Haegele has known dozens. In Cats I’ve Known, she offers engaging, humorous and touching chronicles about them, with a rich illustration of the subject accompanying each of the accounts. ... The book is accessible and reads as though it were a personal journal. ... she uses the animals as a gateway into observing the people around her, from family ... to friends and, perhaps most intriguingly, strangers. The book’s strongest moment is when it asks a question many readers may have asked themselves: 'How do you characterize the relationships people have with animals?' For Haegele’s, they’re similar to the relationships she has with people, but 'simpler.' A book about cats could seem banal and hackneyed, especially since the antics of countless fleet-footed felines are just a quick internet search away. But in Cats I’ve Known, Haegele injects enough of herself — and other characters in her life — to make it well worth the read." —Broken Pencil