“The Beautiful Unseen is its own weather system: soulful, unpredictable, shadow then light.”
Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge
"A slim book of startling prose, The Beautiful Unseen slips between past and present, inner life and outer, seamlessly and beautifully. It’s that rare, treasured thing: a moving portrait of loss that never settles for easy answers.”
Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life
"Painful, intimate, and exquisitely written, Kyle Boelte’s The Beautiful Unseen confronts one family’s profoundest grief with a searing honesty.”
Peter Orner, author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge
"We know how to speak about death. We know how to grieve. Except when it is a suicide—then our culture lacks language, ritual, and understanding. Consider The Beautiful Unseen as an honest and eloquent guide to an uncharted landscape of loss, in which Kyle Boelte has done the brutal and tender mapping of a story that fills the silence, that gives us permission to mourn, and honor, those dead by their own hand.”
Amy Irvine, author of Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land
"Kyle Boelte's The Beautiful Unseen is a lyrical, deeply personal meditation on fog and memory. Boelte's attempt to come to terms with the event that shattered his childhood—his beloved older brother's suicide—and his shifting, fading recollections of his brother, lead him to consider the enigmatic nature of memory itself. At the same time, the San Franciscan becomes an obsessive aficionado of the city's famous fog, which can completely obliterate a landscape in moments. As he wanders across his city in search of the enveloping whiteness, Boelte's dual quest illuminates both the external phenomenon of fog and his painful internal landscape—one that he finally makes peace with. The Beautiful Unseen is a delicate, poignant and original work."
Gary Kamiya, author of Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco
"There were times, reading The Beautiful Unseen, that I was utterly transported, felt surely the fog was pooling outside my own window. Kyle Boelte' haunting debut put me in mind that other story of natural beauty and a lost brother, Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It. I can't think of higher praise than that.”
Joe Wilkins, author of The Mountain and the Fathers
The Beautiful Unseen
At age thirty, Kyle Boelte finds himself living in San Francisco, where the summer fog blows inland off the ocean and the landscape changes moment to moment. Amid this ever changing sea of fog, Boelte struggles to remember his brother Kris, who committed suicide in the family’s Denver home when Boelte was just thirteen. In this impressive debut, Boelte weaves together two compelling narratives: one investigates San Francisco's climate to explain the city’s omnipresent fog; another explores his memory as well as letters, notes, newspaper articles, and other artifacts that tell the story of his brother’s short life and eventual suicide.
"With lush, expressive imagery that conjures an uncertain emotional and physical terrain, Boelte conveys the deep, abiding sense of loss such tragedies inflict, yet softly, tenderly communicates the conflicting sensations of confronting memories, both lost and found."
Booklist (Starred Review)
"Boelte’s sure-footed prose makes The Beautiful Unseen a lovely journey. And a moving one. Though he longs to know his brother’s story — and provides details and documents of his attempt to understand — it’s his obsession with and reverence for the gray weather of San Francisco, a bustling metropolis perched on the edge of a shaking world, that mesmerizes us."
Los Angeles Review of Books
By bringing so many creative resources to The Beautiful Unseen, Boelte defies his brother’s act of self-negation, coming into his own power by refusing to look away from the most ravaging edges of his grief. What could have been the story of a lonely and inexplicable death instead becomes a celebration of human perseverance in all its irreducible complexity.
San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] graceful account of love, loss, and change"
San Jose Mercury News
“In subtle, pitch-perfect prose, The Beautiful Unseen weaves a narrative of deep personal loss with an unusual natural history. The pattern that emerges is achingly beautiful and absolutely unforgettable.”
Justin Hocking, author of The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld
"What is this alchemy, by which natural beauty—fog, wind, damp redwoods—can transform grief into wonder and a semblance of peace? This is the question that Kyle Boelte probes with strong, honest sentences and a young man’s clear eyes. Like Annie Dillard, he blends meteorology, memory, and mystery into a gift of grace.”
Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort
"He’s managed to write a book about forgetting that is, in itself, unforgettable."
Earth Island Journal
"He writes in a graceful style that will make any reader grateful for the time spent with this, and perhaps future, writing."