Maryann grows up alone within a family of six, shrouded by her sister’s anorexia, her brother’s cancer, and her mother’s affair with alcohol. With her childhood consumed by her sister’s eating disorder, she braces for a future fraught with loss. Sinking deep into depression as a teenager, she struggles to understand what it means to love those around her, and questions whether being loved is worth the cost. After her sister’s recovery and her brother’s remission, she’s left to comb the depths of her loneliness and confront the darkest pall of her adolescence: her mother’s drinking. In moving from her hometown in Montana to New York City, she finds a place where those who are alone are not always lonely, and begins to define love, loneliness, and intimacy for herself.
Through experimentation with form, the book captures the perspectives of Maryann’s adult and childhood selves, as well as her experience of mental illness. Flipping through its pages, readers will discover a tapestry of image and white space, scenes written in screenplay, faux news articles, a one-woman show, a Punnett square, a poetry-prose hybrid, a report card, sketches, and math problems. LITTLE ASTRONAUT is a literary kaleidoscope blending the cerebral and emotional, and humor with darkness. The book explores anxiety and depression next to the intricacies of Barbie sex and a failed driving test. These essays dig into the tiny, intimate moments that stitch us together: awaiting sunrise on Christmas mornings with a brother, the unexpected grief of finding a wounded bird, and the meaning of objects passed between sisters. LITTLE ASTRONAUT is, at its heart, the story of a woman redefining intimacy after a lifetime of self-imposed detachment.
Maryann Aita (rhymes with beta) is a writer and performer in Brooklyn, New York. Her debut essay collection, Little Astronaut, is forthcoming from ELJ Editions in spring 2022. Maryann's work has appeared in PANK Magazine, which earned a 2020 Best of the Net Nomination, The Porter House Review, The Exposition Review, perhappened, and The Daily Drunk, among other journals. She is the nonfiction editor of Press Pause Press-a journal with zero social media--where her fiction and nonfiction were previously published. Beyond her writing, Maryann often performs around New York City, including the one-woman-show My Dysfunctional Vagina. She has an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and lives with three cats.