In her new collection of twelve essays, Susan Tekulve explores the tasks we perform that earn us more than a paycheck. Tekulve’s topics include the gathering of secret family stories; surviving a night of haggis and Scottish whisky; mothering a musician son; facing down two teenage gunmen and caring for a dying mother. The key word in this collection is memory. Whether investigating common occurrences, or making narrative sense out of events for which there are very few words, these essays remind us that memories, and the shaping of them into stories, are the best kind of work


Published by Del Sol Press, April 2018

Cover art by Abby McGuire

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“Susan Tekulve’s Second Shift follows the path of the making of a writer.  Tekulve works on assembly lines (for Tide detergent), files (for a psychiatrist), assists in a home for the mentally challenged, teaches, and tries her hand at reporting, searching for human interest stories.  This is a graceful leap to telling stories of her own–about genealogy, parenting, her mother’s dementia, traveling to Italy and Scotland, and bringing to life the neighborhood in which she lives, telling the real story behind ‘The Peachoid,’ the water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina, that would make its way into House of Cards.  She writes movingly of literature, history, war, and boys brandishing guns–at her!–and ‘feeling the loss of small civilities.’  These magnificent essays shift from odes to elegies, each detail lovingly rendered by a woman whose imagination is vital, poignant, and necessary.”

~ Denise Duhamel, author of Scald and Blowout

“From within the calm, impeccable sentences of Second Shift rise stories of fruit-soaked cakes and forlorn peaches, writerly beginnings and progressions, the preservation of family lore and the love that binds the living.  Susan Tekulve’s essays embody the essential ‘thisness’ of Gerard Manley Hopkins.  A blue suitcase.  A Smith Corona.  An empty car seat.  A woman driving, walking, thinking.  Tekulve takes us around the world.  And then she takes us home.

~ Beth Kephart, author of 22 books, including Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir and Tell the Truth. Make It Matter