Everything was going right in the delivery room until, suddenly, it wasn't. The baby's brain was damaged; the new mother, unprepared for the life she and her family would now be living.
In dense, lyrical prose, Jody Gelb pays tribute to her daughter's short life. SHE MAY BE LYING DOWN BUT SHE MAY BE VERY HAPPY is a marvel of compression and potency. Gelb lays her experience bare in the full range of its emotional complexity, from profound suffering to ecstatic joy. It is a mother-daughter memoir scrubbed of sentiment. SHE MAY BE LYING DOWN BUT SHE MAY BE VERY HAPPY isn't so much a book as the naked truth of being human in this imperfect world.
Gelb is an actor and author best known for her roles on Broadway in the Tony Award–winning plays Titanic, The Who’s Tommy, and Wicked, in which she also toured nationally, as well as television appearances on Law & Order and Dr. Death. This is her debut book.
Literary Nonfiction. Family & Relationships.
”This astonishing memoir lives in the sacred space where life and death meet. From its first startling sentence to its last, Gelb’s extraordinary story grips us and never lets go. . . . When I reached the final page, I took a breath and began again. I wanted to experience once more the sunshine of her beloved daughter’s smile, the intricacy of Gelb’s relationships drawn with such wit, humor, and concision. I wanted to remain in contact with her singular voice, to revel in the wisdom she has rendered from her living, and the giant, generous heart she offers to us in this unforgettable work of art.” —Martin Moran author of The Tricky Part and All the Rage
“Within the first paragraph of discovering Jody Gelb’s writing, I knew I was stepping into a world of language and emotion unlike anything I’d ever encountered. Gelb's words don’t just live on the page but seem to float above it, as if suspended from a great height by threads of silk. Maybe that’s why this memoir, for all its gravity and dark places, retains so much light. Like Lueza herself, the storytelling is imbued with a joy that penetrates the outer shell of tragedy. You will never read another book like this.” — Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion
”In her devastating, hilarious, pitch-perfect memoir about motherhood and mortality, Gelb proves that no family history is too tragic for laughter, no loss—even the death of a child—too painful for celebration. Filled with uncommon wisdom and hard-won insights, this book is a beacon for life’s toughest moments, a welcome reminder that you’re not alone.” —Mark Matousek, author of Lessons From an American Stoic: How Emerson Can Change Your Life.
”There is a space between private and public where we humans waver. She May Be Lying Down but She May Be Very Happy by Jody Gelb explores that liminal space by and through both her body as a mother, lover, performer, and the roles she has inhabited in her life. With raw emotional intensity threaded through with poetic gentleness, these micromovements travel the terrain of how we find home not by running from grief, loss, difficulty, but through them, writing our small prayers to tuck into broken places. A tender triumph.” —Lidia Yuknavitch
Jody Gelb has been an actor in New York and San Francisco for more than forty years. She has appeared on Broadway in Wicked, The Who's Tommy, Big River, Titanic and Wrong Mountain. She is the author of solo shows Past Lives and Does the Noise In My Head Bother You? SHE MAY BE LYING DOWN BUT SHE MAY BE VERY HAPPY (Kelson Books, 2023) is her first book.