A Solemn Pleasure



2016 Firecracker Award Finalist, Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP)
Amazon Best Seller                                                                                 
IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery “Best Books of 2015”                           
Brain Pickings Featured Selection of the Week
ForeWord Review “Best Books for 2015 Grads” selection
LitHub “Best Books About Books” selection
Poets & Writers “Best Books for Writers” selection
Publishers Weekly “Top 10: Literary Biographies, Essays & Criticism”

In an essay entitled “Spirit and Vision” Melissa Pritchard poses the question: “Why write?” Her answer reverberates throughout A Solemn Pleasure, presenting an undeniable case for both the power of language and the nurturing constancy of the writing life. Whether describing the deeply interior imaginative life required to write fiction, searching for the lost legacy of American literature as embodied by Walt Whitman, being embedded with a young female GI in Afghanistan, traveling with Ethiopian tribes, or revealing the heartrending tale of her informally adopted son William, a former Sudanese child slave, this is nonfiction vividly engaged with the world.

Through fifteen magnificent essays, Pritchard shares her passion for writing and storytelling that educates, honors, and inspires.


“As insightful as it is engaging…Pritchard will make you cry, think, and laugh; each essay is filled with wit and wisdom…A great read for writers, readers looking for enlightenment, and those who savor nonfiction that explores the spiritual through the everyday.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Moving. …Readers will treasure the book’s numerous memorable moments.”
Publishers Weekly

“Heartfelt…bear[s] powerful witness to suffering, compassion, and transcendence.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Altogether magnificent…(The essay “Spirit and Vision”) bears that cynicism-disarming quality of a commencement address and enchants the psyche like an incantation….(Pritchard)ends the piece like one might a commencement address – and if this were one, it would certainly be among the greatest commencement addresses of all time…Complement A Solemn Pleasure, seriously pleasurable in its entirety, with Susan Sontag’s advice to writers, Virginia Woolf on writing and self-doubt, and Cheryl Strayed’s no-nonsense wisdom on the craft.”
Brain Pickings

“Elegant, funny…Pritchard’s own prose embodies her conviction that great writing involves both imagining the inner life of its subjects and a ‘bearing witness’ to the human condition and the transcendent mystery that surrounds it.”
IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery

“Full of lovely sentences that often achieve an almost mystical, spiritual power.”

“A fine, delicate essayist…Pritchard’s writing is inspiring.”
Lit Hub

“Ethically rich…Pay attention to the surge of (Pritchard’s) mind and the spiritual energy she demonstrates.”
Spirituality and Practice

“(A Solemn Pleasure) may be the handbook of the modern writer.”
Brookline Booksmith Small Press Book Club at Grub Street

“From grief to daily rituals to the shape of a dachshund, Pritchard insightfully connects the most obscure of subjects to reveal gems of truth about the human experience.”
ForeWord Reviews (starred review)

“Pritchard’s essay collection is one to keep by your bedside to read again and again. Like Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, Pritchard plumbs the depths of why we write, in order to uncover the important reasons  we need to write…A Solemn Pleasure is a treasure of a book. Keep it nearby, because in the darkest depths, when you are confronted with the beautiful pain of a blank page, Pritchard will remind you how words can create light…And know that this book will give you superpowers.”  – Atticus Review   

“Invites underlining, re-reading and reading aloud…Pritchard is a beautifully descriptive stylist and deeply committed artist…A Solemn Pleasure is not only a great way for readers to meet her, but an excellent choice to mark the debut of Bellevue Literary Press’s new series, The Art of the Essay.”  – Rain Taxi

“Pritchard once again validates the assertion that all true art is moral, as it instructs by seeking to improve life.”  – World Literature Today