There Was A Fire Here: A Memoir

There Was A Fire Here: A Memoir

by Risa Nye


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Less than a month before her 40th birthday, a devastating firestorm destroys Risa Nye’s home and neighborhood in Oakland, California. Already mourning the perceived loss of her youth, she now must face the loss of all tangible reminders of who she was before.

There Was a Fire Here is the story of how Nye adjusts to the turning point that will forever mark the “before and after” in her life—and a chronicle of her attempts to honor the lost symbols of her past even as she struggles to create a new home for her family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631520457
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Risa Nye lives and writes in Oakland,CA. Her essays and articles have appeared in a number of local,national,and online publications and anthologies,including Fine Homebuilding, The San Francisco Chronicle, Skirt!Magazine,You and Me Magazine, Hippocampus Magazine, Chicken Soup and Not Your Mother's Books, and Oh Sandy! She is co-editor of Writin' on Empty: Parents Reveal the Upside, Downside, and Everything in Between When Children Leave the Nest. She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Saint Mary's College. She blogs at and writes a semimonthly column about cocktails under the name of Ms. Barstool for After a one-year blogging experiment, she wrote Zero to Sixty in One Year: An Easy Month-by-Month Guide to Writing Your Life Story. In her memoir, There Was a Fire Here , she details the events surrounding the devastating Oakland Hills firestorm of 1991 while sharing with the reader her recollections of what she lost and what she learned.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Nothing 1

Part 1

Chapter 1 The Blue House 5

Chapter 2 Sunday 12

Chapter 3 Not Knowing 22

Chapter 4 Finding Out 28

Chapter 5 Chimneys 34

Chapter 6 Lists 40

Part 2

Chapter 7 Moving 45

Chapter 8 The News 49

Chapter 9 Decisions 51

Artifact: Cat Blanket 55

Artifact: Orange T-Shirt 58

Artifact: Tree House 62

Artifact: I'm Terrific Because … 65

Chapter 10 The House with the Phone Booth 68

Artifact: Pink Dress 76

Artifact: Red Shoes 79

Chapter 11 A Sad Halloween 82

Artifact: King Kong 85

Artifact: Rotisserary 88

Chapter 12 Life Begins at Forty 91

Artifact: Happy Today Pillow 93

Artifact: Gold Watch 95

Chapter 13 The Holidays 96

Artijact: Boxes 100

Chapter 14 We Are Those Other People 108

Artifact: Red China 110

Artifact: Blue Clove 112

Chapter 15 Other People's Stories 115

Artifact: Aunt Augusta's Chair 123

Artijact: Secretary Desk 125

Part 3

Chapter 16 Home Again 131

Chapter 17 My Journal 134

Artijact: Star-Shaped Cake Pans 138

Artifact: Boys and Girls Cook Book 140

Chapter 18 Drawing from the Fire 143

Artifact: The Indoor Noisy Book 145

Epilogue: There Was a Fire Here 147

Appendix 153

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