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Tracing the Desire Line
by Melissa Matthewson

publication date: September 16, 2019


softcover, $16
(ISBN:  978-1-076136-13-8)


—2021 Oregon Book Award Finalist in Creative Nonfiction

Tracing the Desire Line follows a writer's journey of opening her marriage with her husband. The story—told through short memoirs, essays, lists, letters, and hybrid prose poems—is an intimate inquiry into one woman’s search for autonomy with detours into meditations on music, motherhood, religion, love, and wildness.

Praise for Tracing the Desire Line:

"A gripping and lyrical look at marriage, motherhood, and desire. This memoir-in-essays unearths Matthewson’s stirrings, endeavors, and adventures beyond wife and mother to reveal the woman she hopes to be: free. For anyone whose wanting has always been too much, this is the book for you." 

Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir

"In Tracing the Desire Line, Melissa Matthewson creates an achingly honest and raw portrait of a woman and a marriage traveling through a difficult season of growth and change. This beautiful memoir, smart and open and gorgeously written, marks the debut of an important literary voice."

Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day


"In prose that is luminous, smart and lyrical, Matthewson has woven a powerful and immensely moving story of marriage, belonging, desire and the wildness that exists both outside of us and within. I read this book in a trance of astonishment and gratitude."   

Robin MacArthur, author of Half Wild and Heart Spring Mountain


"This is a book about shifting definitions—of home, marriage, and self—and about the courage it takes and the prices we pay when we set about to challenge former ideas. What a brilliant debut."

Barbara Hurd, author of Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies


"Like the wild territory that Matthewson calls home, desire shifts, changes, and morphs with new meaning. The prose’s balance between contemplation and tension keeps the reader alert and the pages turning."

Elizabeth Fiala, Brevity


"Tracing the Desire Line resists the traditional confines of memoir as much as the narrator resists the same in her marriage. Matthewson successfully defies the genre not only by way of nonlinearity and fragmentation, but also through her expansive and relentlessly curious approach to her subject matter" 

Jeannine Ouellette, Up the Staircase Quarterly

Melissa Matthewson’s essays have appeared in Guernica, Catapult, Literary Hub, AEON, Longreads, DIAGRAM, American Literary Review, Mid-American Review, River Teeth, and The Rumpus among other publications. She is the author of Tracing the Desire Line, a finalist for the 2021 Oregon Book award in creative nonfiction. She holds degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz, University of Montana, and the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her essay collection, The Fire Trees, is forthcoming from punctum books. Learn more at or @mazzymaple on Instagram. 

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