Ah, Céline….

When I was 21 and writing my undergraduate thesis in philosophy, I supplemented Kant and Plato, naturally, with novel reading, a truly great human pleasure. From a friend, I snagged a copy of Death on the Installment Plan – arguably one of the best titles ever. (How could anything more accurately sum up human existence?)

I remember lying on a mattress in that apartment in Brattleboro, with the enormous windows open to Main Street below, unscreened, street dust drifting in over the mahogany sills. Living alone in a gorgeous old apartment building, with bustling town life below, was new to me, and I was new to life myself then, the world of my womanly life barely unfurling.

I must have spent hours reading Céline, in that college-age life I had then, devouring that book with a passion. I’ve read many authors whom I’ve loved and admired and wanted to emulate. Céline is Céline; no one else. What raw joy to read that book for the first time. Early this morning, me and the scampering mouse were awake, and I was reading Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, in that inimitable world of the novel. Yes.

Here’s a sentence I read this morning:

…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.

– Hanya Yanagihara A Little Life

And then Céline:

That’s the hatred that kills you. There’ll be more of it, so deep and thick there will always be some left, enough to go around…it will ooze out over the earth…and poison it, so nothing will grow but viciousness, among the dead, among men.

– Céline, Death on the Installment Plan


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


  1. I was unexpectedly gifted a belated birthday present a couple days ago. Your book, and some chocolate covered strawberries to go with. So happy.

  2. Would love to hear more about your musings as a young woman/writer–when you’re inspired to do so, of course. I enjoy hearing about your past/present connections. Take care friend.

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