We go through life meeting people, forming relationships, ending friendships, suffering illnesses of our own or our family members, losing dogs and cats, participating in life’s transitions—weddings, births, celebrations—and rarely do we read about these in the way that Abigail Thomas writes about them. Some pages are a paragraph long, others a few pages but every entry conveys emotion, rich complex thoughts that take her content, moving from middle age to older age, to a new level of memoir writing. I devoured this book.— Gayle
April 2015 Indie Next List
“Like an honest talk with your wittiest friend, Thomas'new memoir will have you both laughing out loud and on the verge of tears. Examining a life that has changed dramatically over the years and the friendship that has endured it all, What Comes Next and How to Like It reveals simple truths we can all recognize in our own lives. Thomas' gentle humor is evident in every passage as she writes of struggling with aging, loyalty, and drinking after the death of her loving husband. What makes this all the more brilliant are the sparkling moments of insight, full of depth and emotion, that Thomas so beautifully shares with the reader.”
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
The New York Times bestseller from the beloved author of A Three Dog Life—an exhilarating, superbly written memoir on friendship, family, creativity, tragedy, and the richness of life: “If you only read one book this year, make it this one” (Ann Patchett).
In her bestselling memoir A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas wrote about the devastating loss of her husband. In What Comes Next and How to Like It, “a keenly observed memoir…Thomas writes of the changes aging brings us all and of coping through love: of family, dogs, a well-turned phrase. She is superb company” (People).
Thomas was startled to overhear herself described as “a nice old lady with a tattoo,” because she thinks of herself as not nice, not old, nor a lady. But she has wondered: what comes next? What comes after the death of a spouse? What form does a lifelong friendship take after deepest betrayal? How does a mother cope with her child’s dire illness? Or the death of a cherished dog?
And how to like it? How to accept, appreciate, enjoy? How to find solace and pleasure? How to sustain and be sustained by our most trusted, valuable companions? At its heart, What Comes Next and How to Like It is about the complicated friendship between Thomas and a man she met thirty-five years ago—a rich bond that has lasted through marriages, child-raising, and the vicissitudes and tragedies of life. “After all,” she writes, “there are those people we love, and then there are those we recognize. These are the unbreakable connections.”
Exquisitely observed, lush with sentences you will read over and over again, What Comes Next and How to Like It “is a beautifully felt, deeply moving memoir, the best work yet by a woman who has already done some of the best work in the field. Abigail Thomas is the Emily Dickinson of memoirists, and so much of this book’s wisdom is between the lines and in the white spaces. It may only take you two days to read, but the impact will stay with you for a long, long time” (Stephen King). This is a glorious guide to living imperfectly and exuberantly.
About the Author
Abigail Thomas, the daughter of renowned science writer Lewis Thomas (The Lives of a Cell), is the mother of four children and the grandmother of twelve. She is the author of six previous books, including the memoir A Three Dog Life, which was named one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. She teaches writing and lives in Woodstock.
"What Comes Next and How to Like It is a beautifully felt, deeply moving memoir, the best work yet by a woman who has already done some of the best work in the field. It's about friendship, and the shocks friendship can endure when it's true and deep. It's about the rueful pleasures (not to mention the jarring pitfalls) of getting old. It's about enduring tragedy, sickness, and loss. Thomas speaks of these big things by scattering the ordinary jewelry of everyday life: loving dogs (even when they chew your most precious possessions), Googling old boyfriends, rescuing an orphan mouse, and trees that try to grow in the crack between boards. Small speaks for large here, in a calm voice that talks to the mind while it fills the heart. Abigail Thomas is the Emily Dickinson of memoirists, and so much of this book's wisdom is between the lines and in the white spaces. It may only take you two days to read, but the impact will stay with you for a long, long time. Abigail Thomas fills memory with living breath."
— Stephen King
"This may be the most honest book I've ever read, by one of the most beautiful writers I know-- dizzyingly truthful, often funny, lyrical, wise."
— Anne Lamott
"I would follow Abigail Thomas on any journey she ever takes. The arrival of a new book from this master is always a cause for celebration, because I know right away that I'm about to learn something important about the art of writing and the art of living, both. I come to her books as though to a feast, and leave fulfilled and transformed."
— Elizabeth Gilbert
"This episodic memoir is full of love and life. Readers will identify with the feelings and the people even as they realize how different they are, how wondrous."
— Eloise Kinney
“Bighearted…frank and funny andunpretentious…[Thomas’s] gratitude and amazement abound.”
— Catherine Newman
“A former book editor and memoirist's accountof the remarkable 35-year friendship that sustained her through the trials andtribulations of adult life…A moving andeloquent memoir.”
“Irreverent, wise, and boundlessly generous."
— Elissa Schappell
"Infused with [Thomas’s] signature sense of mordancy and wit…. all about depth offeeling, the experience of being a mother and a friend…its disparate piecesfall into exquisite place."
— David Ulin
“Full of love, humor, anger and a certain amount of uncertainty…. Although most of these passages are very short and read almost like journal entries, the overall picture Thomas conveys is that of the deep, soul-level relationships that exist between her and her family and with Chuck, connections that make all the highs and lows of life livable."
— Lee E. Cart
“A keenly observed memoir…[Thomas] writes of the changes aging brings us all and of coping through love: of family, dogs, a well-turned phrase. She is superb company."
"Beautifully written...wry...resilient. Her mature bones may not be all that flexible but her topics and sentences flip and cartwheel with the greatest of ease."
— Maureen Corrigan
“What Comes Next and How to Like It is the story ofhow Abigail Thomas manages to survive all the beauty and sadness life has givenher. If you only read one book this year, make it this one.”
— Ann Patchett
"I want to grow oldthe way Abigail Thomas is growing old — with grace and wit, humor and honesty,dogs and dear friends. What Comes Next and How to Like It is plain-spoken and wise. Thomas's chapters are brief (some just a paragraph, none longer than three pages), but they feel complete and full. She says what she means and no more. (But she says it beautifully.)”
— Laurie Hertzel
"A nearly unforgivable betrayal in the middle of [a] long friendship somehow didn’t end it… and it’s this spirit of stalwart love and loyalty that makes Thomas’s work so moving... The result is a book that reads very quickly, but lingers long after."
— Kate Tuttle
“Abigail Thomas knows adversity and how to make some kind of joy out of it… a meditation on aging and family that brings to mind Anne Lamott or Anna Quindlen… her gift is to never ponder too long on life’s woes."
— Nora Krug
“Hilarious, wise, generous…full of interesting places and people and art and feeling and moment and thought."
— Dinah Lenney
“[Thomas] is in total control of the narrative even when she feels that she’s not—a string of tragedies pieced together with undeterred grace.…each scene feels fresh and alive.”
— Alex Layman
“Thomas has another winner with WHAT COMES NEXT AND HOW TO LIKE IT… a rich, multifaceted portrait of the author’s daily life in Woodstock, New York, with her beloved dogs. She is both forthright and self-deprecatingly funny … readers will treasure this journey with a writer who comes across as a compelling, lively friend."
— Alice Cary
“Beautiful… Thomas writes arrestingly about the trials and gifts of friendship What Comes Next and How to Like It is ultimately about how to live with the hand one is dealt: its disappointments and surprises, the grief and the grace... The result is a thing of beauty, largely owing to the author’s utter fearlessness in the face of the unexpected.”
“The astonishingly rhapsodic What Comes Next and How to Like It is this master stylist's best work yet…One of the many gifts of What Comes Next is the news Thomas brings us from the front lines of old age, peppery and witty, neither romanticized nor denied."
— Meredith Maran