Lost Wax

Jericho Parms

Coming-of-age essays that examine the ways that life, art, and memory intersect


"The intricacies involved in the weaving of these 18 luminous essays in Lost Wax will please even the most fastidious Virgo. . . . Written in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, each sentence is carved like a sculpture."
—Kelly McMasters, Oprah.com

“The essays in Jericho Parms’s Lost Wax read exquisitely as poems, each piece a lyrical moment resplendent with imagery. In a work punctuated by art and music, and tinged with drama and heartache, Parms retraces her steps through the family rooms of her youth, across the galleries of adulthood, to create a portrait of a cultured life borne out of curiosity and relentless wonder.”
—Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa

"In Lost Wax, Jericho Parms offers her readers an intricate map of her coming of age. Loosely chronological and spanning Parms's early life (in the 1980s and 1990s) to her adulthood in the present day, her essays are surfaced, textured, raised, in relief. Home and away have deeply marked her."
—Audrey Petty, editor of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing

"The author offers beautiful reflections on memory, art, identity, and living within the interstices of the world, and she provides many gems of observation and expertly crafted metaphors and similes. Along the way, Parms also injects the book with an array of arresting historical, cultural, and aesthetic asides. As an artist and a person, what Parms desires most of all is 'to soak everything in,' and as she does so, we find her to be a perceptive, unsettling, and surprisingly endearing guide."
Kirkus Reviews

"Following the inspiration for this book’s title, the lost wax method for making cast sculpture, the essays in Parms’s delicately molded collection find their form and meaning through meditations on containers and absence. She writes about journeys and distance, freedom and captivity, the losses of pets and people, and 'how material textures enclose our living impulses.' Parms’s prose is as elegant and studied as the classical sculpture she admires, making wonderful leaps and astonishing juxtapositions through which her precise, startling images emerge like etchings on glass."
Publishers Weekly

"It is no easy task, for example, to tell a compelling, original story that begins with a child refusing to eat the carrots on her dinner plate, but Parms does it, and the instant she quotes Cezanne's view of carrots as part of the piece, we know she has done something special."
—Molly Sprayregen, American Book Review

Lost Wax by Jericho Parms is an ekphrastic and lyrical meditation on love, loss, language, family, and identity. . . . As much a travel memoir as a collection of essays, the book ultimately enacts an essayistic and valiant attempt at self-understanding. . . . Lost Wax is a book about fitting in everywhere and nowhere, about living in between parents, between identities, between relationships, landscapes, past, present, and future. It becomes, in the end, a stunning celebration of the liminal spaces in life.”
—Steven Church, author of One with the Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy

"The essays of Lost Wax are a journey in their own right, though not a physical one. Instead of putting one foot in front of the other on an incline, Parms puts down a memory, then a metaphor, then a realization—all of it circling toward the summit, all the while acutely aware of the richness of colors and feeling."
—e.v. de cleyre, Brevity

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For her collection Lost Wax, Jericho Parms borrows her title from a casting method used by sculptors. As such, these eighteen essays, centered on art and memory, offer an investigation into form and content and the language of innocence, experience, and loss. Four sections (each borrowing names from the sculptures of Degas, Bernini, and Rodin) frame a series of meditations that consider the boundaries of the discernible world and the extremes of the body and the self. Here Parms draws heavily on memories of a Bronx upbringing in the 1980s and 1990s; explorations in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and the American West; the struggle to comprehend race, love, family, madness, and nostalgia; and the unending influence of art, poetry, and music.

Written largely within the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lost Wax is an inquiry into the ways we curate memory and human experience despite the limits of observation and language. In these essays, Parms exhibits and examines her greatest obsessions: how to describe the surface of marble or bronze; how to embrace the necessary complexities of identity, stillness and movement, life and death—how to be young and alive.

Crux: The Georgia Series in Literary Nonfiction

Page count: 168 pp.
4 b&w illustrations
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $24.95

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Jericho Parms is the assistant director of the MFA writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches at Champlain College. Her essays have appeared in Fourth Genre, the Normal School, Hotel Amerika, the American Literary Review, Brevity, and elsewhere.