We Loved It All: A Memory of Life
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2024 by the Washington Post, Oprah Daily, and Literary Hub
This lucent anti-memoir from celebrated novelist Lydia Millet explores the pain and joy of being a parent, child, and human at a moment when the richness of the planet’s life is deeply threatened.
Across more than a dozen acclaimed works of fiction, readers have become intimate with Lydia Millet’s distinctive voice and sly wit. We Loved It All, her first nonfiction book, combines the precision of fact with the power of narrative to evoke our enmeshment with the more-than-human world.
Emerging from Millet’s quarter century of wildlife and climate advocacy, We Loved it All marries scenes from her life with moments of nearness to “the others”— the animals and plants with whom we share the earth. Accounts of fears and failures, jobs and friendships, childhood and motherhood are interspersed with exquisite accounts of nonhumans and arresting meditations on the power of story to shape the future.
Seeking to understand why we immerse ourselves in the domestic and immediate, turning away from more sweeping views, she examines how grand cultural myths can deny our longing for the company of nature and deprive us of its charisma and inspiration. In a thrilling distillation of experience and emotion, she evinces the familiar sense of feeling both well-meaning and powerless—a creature subject to forces that are baffling in their immensity. The fear and grief of extinction and climate change, Millet suggests, are forms of love that might be turned to resistance.
We Loved It All shimmers with curiosity and laconic humor yet addresses with reverence the most urgent crises of our day. An incantatory, bewitching devotional to the vast and precious bestiary of the earth, it asks that we extend to other living beings the protection they deserve—the simple grace of continued existence.
Praise for We Loved It All: A Memory of Life
[A] profoundly affecting meditation on what it means to live through climate change. . . . In scintillating prose, Millet makes a passionate case that humans must own up to their responsibilities to each other and the natural world . . . . Mournful and piercingly beautiful, this will stick with readers long after they finish the last page.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Millet's awe of nature is catching, even as it lives alongside the grief of our everyday destructions.
— Eliza Smith - Literary Hub
In turns heartbreaking and inspiring, We Loved It All reminds us to hold every being dear at a time when we all need love more than ever.
— Amy Brady - Literary Hub
We have all been the beneficiary of Lydia Millet’s eloquence and imagination through fiction. But now she gives us a different kind of story. A story of stunning attention, truths, and urgency, We Loved It All is an ode to the creatures we live among: finned, feathered, furred, scaled, and rooted…This is a rigorous, evocative, brilliant bow to life, even as the world burns. Please read this transformative anti-memoir that shows us a way forward.
— Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion: Essays of Undoing
Lydia Millet's We Loved It All is at once lyrical and densely packed, intimate and all-encompassing. It beautifully captures the current moment, in all its terrors and possibilities.
— Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
Lydia Millet’s novels have always worked on me like a drug; her tenderly sardonic voice and the command of her uncanny narrative velocity keep me turning pages like burning through a bag of chips without stopping to lick the salt off my fingers. We Loved It All will break your heart.
— Jonathan Lethem, author of Brooklyn Crime Novel
I love reading Lydia Millet, delight in the pithy observations of her all-seeing eye, and suspect her many admirers will be smitten with this deep-time story of our immersion in Earth’s wild creatures and our hapless modern attempts to escape nature.
— Dan Flores, author of Wild New World and Coyote America
An altogether unique book that allows you to watch a gorgeous mind at work. There is, quite apart from the magic of her writing, not a single page where you won’t learn something new. We Loved It All will leave you breathless.
— Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Lost Companions and When Elephants Weeps