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A collection of essays by novelist J.F. Riordan, Reflections on a Life in Exile is easy to pick up, and hard to put down. By turns deeply spiritual and gently comic, these brief meditations range from the inconveniences of modern life to the shifting nature of grief. Whether it’s an unexpected revelation from a trip to the hardware store, a casual encounter with a tow-truck driver, the changing seasons, or a conversation with a store clerk grieving for a dog, J. F. Riordan captures and magnifies the passing beauty of the ordinary and the extraordinary that lingers near the surface of daily life.
J.F. Riordan was born in New Jersey and first moved to Michigan, then Wisconsin as a child. At the age of 14 she decided to become an opera singer, and was fortunate in the aftermath to have been able to sing. At 16, after two years of high school, she went to the University of New Mexico to study voice, continued her music studies in Chicago and Milwaukee, and ultimately became a professional singer. Homesick after years of travel, she came home to the Midwest, finished her college degree, and became certified to teach high school. She taught for three years in the inner city before taking a position as a program officer for a foundation. She lives in exile from Washington Island with her husband and two dogs. North of the Tension Line is her first novel.