Skip to main content
Cover for Vessels


A Love Story

Daniel Raeburn


List Price: 23.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An unforgettable portrait of a marriage tested to its limits.

When Dan, a writer with a passion for underground comics, and his wife Bekah, a potter dedicated to traditional Japanese ceramics, met through a mutual friend, they swiftly fell in love. “Of all the women I’ve ever met,” Dan told a friend, “she’s the first one who felt like family.” But at Christmas, as they prepared for the birth of their first child, tragedy struck.

Based on Daniel Raeburn’s acclaimed New Yorker essay, Vessels: A Love Story is the story of how he and Bekah clashed and clung to each other through a series of unsuccessful pregnancies before finally, joyfully, becoming parents. In prose as handsomely unadorned as his wife’s pottery, Raeburn recounts a marriage cemented by the same events that nearly broke it.

Vessels is an unflinching, enormously moving account of intimacy, endurance, and love.

Praise For Vessels: A Love Story

This is one of the wisest, saddest, most beautiful books about love that I’ve ever read.
— Tom Bissell

Daniel Raeburn gets right down to the essentials: life, death, love, loss. There’s not a spare syllable here, and the telegraphic style has the odd effect of amplifying these profound questions, allowing them to resonate fully. Vessels is a beautiful book about the sheer, mysterious contingency of anyone being born at all.

— Alison Bechdel

Vessels is a brilliant and dazzling story about love, marriage, and family. In a prose so transparent that you feel as if it’s your own experience, Daniel Raeburn has written a beautiful book about loss and redemption.

— Susan Cheever

Daniel Raeburn writes like a person who means it, every last word. Vessels is spare and elegant and smart and propulsive, but above all it feels unrelentingly truthful, alive with the close breath of the realest intimacy. Raeburn went to a very dark place and brought us back something beautiful and strangely consoling.

— Claire Dederer

One of the most beautifully sad and mesmerizing books of the year.
— Minnesota Public Radio, “Best Nonfiction of 2016”

More than offering a simple tale about grief and the struggles of parenthood, Raeburn speaks to the emotional influence of those we try to bring into the world and the lives we are responsible for.
— Booklist

A poignant expression of how two young people matured as they created a family . . . [and] also a celebration of the way that birth—even if that birth ends in sudden death—brings new life to parents. An eloquently candid memoir.
— Kirkus Reviews

Vessels should be in the company of memoirs such as Darkness Visible by William Styron, about depression. Both are books that speak to one issue, yet find the thread that connects us all.

— Tara Shafer -

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393285383, 192pp.

Publication Date: March 14, 2016

About the Author

Daniel Raeburn’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, and The Imp, his series of booklets about underground cartoonists. He is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts. He and his wife and two daughters live in Chicago, where he teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Chicago.