Local author Jason Warburg on writing, grief and his new collection of essays. | Literature


Remembrance: Reflections on Love, Art, Faith, Heroes, Grief and Baseball was meant to be an innocent collection of essays that have been piling up in Jason Warburg’s archives since the 1990s – some published, most not. Warburg returned to them “in earnest,” he says, when humanity returned to sourdough for good – during lockdown summer 2020. The fact that he had just lost his job of more than a decade, as director of communications at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, also had something to do with it.

Warburg has had a presence on the Monterey Peninsula since 2009 when he left the Bay Area. Her parents, writer Sandol Stoddard and architect Felix Warburg, met in the 1950s on the East Coast and moved West. They both died within the last two years, and those events had a huge impact on the book. Warburg realized that trials, although episodic, create a kind of memory.

“It changed for me,” he says of the project, but it didn’t bother him. He is already the author of three other books: another collection of essays (My heart sings harmonymusic documentary) and two fiction books (Believe in me and Never break the chain). He is comfortable in both modes. “Both are fun,” he says. “With fiction, the fun is creating an entire world. And the problem is… you can create an entire world.

Warburg grew up watching his mother write. “She was passionate about it,” he says. “She always said that we, the four boys, were her life’s work, but it was only fitting that she would lock herself up and write with a singular concentration.”

Memory is organized chronologically. 90s plays don’t shy away from politics. As we progress, flashy subjects gradually fade into the background, giving way to memories. The last essays were written in 2020 and their pain and intimacy are fresh.

“Writing about politics is sometimes daunting,” Warburg says when asked about this shift in tone throughout the book. “Everyone is yelling at each other. It’s like we’re sitting in a box with no way out.

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