that false promise of clarity. . . is just as much a lie as closure or any other posture of reflective control

Acclaimed essayist Steven Church reflects on work, fear and fatherhood in a series of encounters that defy comfortable answers. From the depths of a tourist-trap gold mine to the edges of a meteor crater to the jagged landscapes of marriage and parenting, shift and flux are always front and center. In his sixth book of nonfiction, Church illustrates once again the immeasurable value of an open, essayistic mind.

Advance praise

"Steven Church is one of the bravest and fiercest essayists we’ve got. I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part made me think hard about the true nature of love, fatherhood, and fear. He takes us along road “whiskered in snow” and deep into the mineshafts where the heart’s confusions echo. I was stunned by the candor and eloquence of these pieces. I felt a lot less alone reading them. That’s what I’m always looking for in a book." — Steve Almond, author of Bad Stories and Against Football

"There's a moment in nearly every one of Steven Church's essays where the inner and outer world come together or come in conflict — a moment when what the essayist is thinking, the way he considers himself, changes, and he is left to confront something he didn't know was there. This is the power of I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part, Church's decision not to reveal himself so much as to let himself be revealed. In this collection, he takes us to his own dark places, writing about responsibility, to ourselves and to others, and what it means. His conclusion? That there is no secret, no magic incantation, just our day-to-day existence, which means that we are always figuring it out as we go along." — David L. Ulin, author of Sidewalking and The Lost Art of Reading

“An illuminating guided tour of the darker reaches of parental fears and anxieties. Steven Church is the everyperson essayist noticing and apprehending the fringes of existence, even when things don’t happen, or don’t happen the way he fears, and then scrutinizing them through his vigilant, agitated, and ultimately settling mind.” — Patrick Madden, author of Submlime Physick and Quotidiana

“Steven Church explores his varied work history for rich stories about the fears and challenges of becoming a responsible adult, but ultimately it’s his heart, particularly when it comes to becoming a parent, that yields the greatest wealth. A powerful and deeply moving collection of essays that shows a writer working at the top of his craft.” — Jerald Walker, author of The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult

“Steven Church seems to write his consciousness directly onto the page.” — Kristen Radtke, author of Imagine Wanting Only This

"In Steven Church’s latest collection, I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part, we are given Church’s singular and signature voice, which is driven by a deep well of curiosity for the profound, the layered, the inextricable. He is a storyteller at heart, but he never veers from the memoirist’s credo of fidelity to truth during the exploration of the self. There is often a slight remove of humor, very finely done, imbued within these essays with just the right touch of the pen to the page. These essays pulled me into their landscapes and welcomed me in through the ease of the narrator’s voice, and yet they also immediately sent me wandering through the landscapes of my own memories--as I’m certain they’ll do for you, too. At one point we’re told, 'I have to learn to live with what I can’t understand, can’t fix, can’t maintain, and sometimes just step back and watch it move and shake and crash without me.' Even so, thankfully, Church continues to search out and trace the connections between the imagination and lived experience—in order to more fully comprehend the world we live in--and we are all the better for it." — Brian Turner, author of the memoir My Life as a Foreign Country and the acclaimed poetry collection, Here, Bullet.

"... "I'm trying to puzzle out why I'm interested in darker stories, and if they help me understand how to be a better father. I certainly think about that stuff a lot..." - Steven Church in conversation with Laura Tsutsui at KVPR

"...I think it's tempting but also kind of dangerous to buy into the myth of the father as superhero, and it's perhaps more important that the children see you try, struggle, and occasionally fail. I think when I'm writing about it in the book, I'm mostly talking about my confusion and failures. As I argue in the preface, I think confusion is often the most interesting engine of art and writing. . ." - Steven Church in conversation with Scott Ross at LiteraryMama

"...Parenting, like writing, is an exercise in self-doubt and exploration, but often this must be a solitary exercise. Church can’t share his memoirs and personal essays with a toddler, nor can I explain to my own small children why I spy on elderly Asian men and hipster young couples. Perhaps someday I’ll tell them how scared I was during this time in their lives, how I spent every waking hour worried about the job I was doing as their father and whether my mistakes would permanently fuck them up, but that day seems far away. Neither they, nor I, are ready for that kind of transparency. My kids need to go on thinking that everything is okay in their lives, that Daddy is a Mr. Incredible-esque superhero who’ll do everything in his power to protect his family. Church comes to this same realization with his own son, who’ll have the rest of his life to learn about his father’s weaknesses. 'I decided to let him believe for a while that I could lift some trains,' he writes, '. . . because perhaps all children need these sorts of fictions to feel safe.' Parents, it turns out, need them, too..." - Andrew Bomback at OhioEdits

"I’ve attended a lot of public readings given by writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. I’ve heard a lot of wonderful, inspiring, thought-provoking, and emotionally powerful words; and I’ve also seen a lot of very very bad readings. But I’ve only booed one writer in my life...” - Steven Church on the push against clarity (and in praise of youthful wisdom) at LitHutb

"Church challenges expectations of 'truth' and 'clarity' as he frequently finds himself in a state of flux. At the beginning of his latest, Church provides the key to how his work differs from essayistic convention, how “clarity. . .seems not only highly overrated as a state of mind, but also anathema to the origins of the essay, which saw the form as an exercise in self-doubt and noble confusion.” - Kirkus Reviews


Launch: Fresno State, May 11, 7:00pm - 9:30pm
On Fatherhood at Powell's: Steven Church, Aaron Gilbreath and Justin Hocking in conversation, Powell's, June 12

Stay tuned for more event dates, excerpts and reviews.

Where's the baby? I called out in the dark. Half asleep, I sat up in bed. Where’s the baby? I asked again.

I'm Just Getting to The Disturbing Part:
On Work, Fear and Fatherhood
$16.00 paperback ISBN 9781944853457
$9.99 ebook

May 2018

copyright 2016 OP19 Books LLC