Praise

“Laura Esther Wolfson’s first collection is one of the most accomplished and inviting debuts of a personal essayist in years. She has translated, in effect, her psyche and those she encounters with rueful honesty for our reading pleasure. I found it a real page-turner.”—Phillip Lopate, author, Against Joie de Vivre 

“A woman sits musing on all she has lived through—her two marriages, her lifelong desire to write, her relation to the Russian language, the lung disease that is slowly overpowering her. Searching for the right distance from which to make large sense of it all, she adopts a tone of voice that is richly reflective of all that has gone before. This voice lives on in the reader’s mind long after the last page of For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors—an unusually stirring memoir—has been turned.”—Vivian Gornick, author, Fierce Attachments

“Laura Esther Wolfson is that rare thing among writers these days – a grown-up. She’s cultivated and sophisticated, an unabashed intellectual, a prodigious, multilingual reader.  She’s a master of the personal essay form, a limber, playfully serious writer who can keep a number of thematic balls spinning simultaneously. This is a marvelous collection. What lifts it so far above the usual offerings  is something I can only call soulfulness. Wolfson’s prose is like strong Russian tea; it has a depth of flavor that only a long, devoted steeping in life and literature can produce.” —Emily Fox Gordon, author, Mockingbird Years

“Set variously in America, France, and the former Soviet Union, these interlinked stories have a certain magic about them. They speak of loss and disappointment, of foiled ambitions and failed marriages. And yet there is something uplifting about them—owing no doubt to the author’s reserves of talent and wisdom.”—Daphne Merkin, author, The Fame Lunches

For Single Mothers Working As Train Conductors by Laura Esther Wolfson is an exciting example of the hybrid capacity of nonfiction in general, and of the essay in particular. Wolfson, a translator of Russian, French, and Spanish into English, has written a book-length essay about love of language — and the ways that language barriers can in turn create barriers to love. Wolfson navigates a marriage, a divorce, chronic lung disease, and work as a literary translator with the grace and nimble-mindedness of one accustomed to traversing rocky artistic and intellectual borders.” Dylan Cooley, Essay Daily

“It’s the best book I’ve read all year, and I’ll spend all year mailing it to friends. Will the Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction always be this good? Maybe. But in the meantime, read everything with Wolfson’s name on it.” Caroline, goodreads

“Wolfson… has been storing up her stories, experiences, feelings, failures and successes, joy, sorrow, grief – all of it – for close to thirty years, and now here they all are spilled artfully out onto the pages of this heartfelt, moving, funny and heartbreakingly lovely book…[R]eading these stories has been a pure pleasure. Wolfson displays a disarmingly delightful sense of self-deprecating humor throughout her narrative. She knows enough not to take herself too seriously. And I love her for that. But make no mistake. This is a woman who has thought long and hard about her half century or so in this vale of tears. This is her story, I am so pleased – and grateful – that she has finally gathered it all and gotten it down and shared it with us. Thank you, Laura. Bravo! My highest recommendation.” Tim Bazzet, Librarything