On April 5, York alumni Stuart Ross will release his newest book, The Book of Grief And Hamburgers, an essay/memoir/poetic compilation about life and the inevitability of grief.
“I have known an awful lot of people who have died. It’s very bad luck to be my friend or be in my family, because you are doomed,” Ross jokes. “I was struggling with the accumulation of losses. I didn’t know how to cope. Although I’d already written about 20 books, I had never written as a form of catharsis, and that’s what I sent out to do with The Book of Grief and Hamburgers.”
“In April 2020, just a month into the pandemic, my best friend, the Ottawa poet Michael Dennis, phoned to tell me that he had terminal cancer and likely wouldn’t last the year. Two months later, I got a phone call that my brother Barry had died suddenly. I was the last living member of my family, having already buried my mother, my father, and my other brother, Owen. I’d also already lost several of my dear friends and mentors, including Robin Wood, a film theory professor at Atkinson College,” says Ross.
Personally, I’ve lost both my grandmother and childhood dog this past year, and while grief doesn’t necessarily look the same for everyone, I found comfort in reading The Book of Grief and Hamburgers. I also appreciated the implementation of the various poetic pieces throughout the book.
Grief and mourning, while being painful and unavoidable, fosters an appreciation for life and the lives once lived. The thoughtful writing style in this book reminds me of the fragility of life, inevitable change, and how while every individual is unique, grief and loss is one thing that connects us all.
The Book of Grief and Hamburgers is an ode and celebration of friendships, family, and the footprints that they affectionately leave.
“I wanted to figure out just what grief and mourning was, and how one copes. I was determined to finish the book before Michael died because I wanted him to be alive in the narrative. I finished it shortly before he died on the last day of 2020. I got to tell him that the book was dedicated to him and had an epigraph by him,” adds Ross.
“I’m a relentlessly obscure writer and I’ll die obscure,” exclaims Ross when talking about his life and his future. “I lived in Toronto for my first half-century, then moved to Cobourg, Ontario, where, after a dozen years, I’m still trying to figure out small-town life.” Ross says that he is currently at work on 10 different books at the moment, including novels, collaborative poetry books, and memoir material.
To find The Book of Grief and Hamburgers and to learn more, click here.