Nora Gallagher

Nora Gallagher is the author of Moonlight Sonata at Mayo Clinic and two other memoirs: the best-selling Things Seen and Unseen and Practicing Resurrection, parts of a quartet on modern faith. Her memoirs are in the tradition of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton: the daily living out of faith and doubt rather than abstract “belief.” She is also the author of the novel Changing Light, which received outstanding reviews in the New York Times (where it was also an Editor’s Choice) as well as the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe among others. She is the editor in charge of environmental responsibility and special projects at Patagonia, Inc.

In Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic, Nora draws on her experience after she was told she might go blind. With this news, and the search for a diagnosis and treatment, her once busy and fast-moving life tunneled into a quieter country she calls Oz: unfamiliar, slower, deeply rooted in uncertainty and vulnerability. Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic, written as Gallagher was still recovering, is a moving meditation on serious illness, what helped her through and what didn’t, why a wall exists between the sick and the healthy, and what can take it down partway. It is also a testament of modern faith—accepting of both science and intellect—and a hard-won revelation of what lies at the heart of ordinary suffering.

Her essays, book reviews, and journalism have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships at both the MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center. Gallagher is a popular speaker having given talks at Yale University, UC-Berkeley, and Stanford University. She serves on the board of advisors of the Yale Divinity School.

She lives in a cottage in Santa Barbara, Calif., with her husband the writer, Vincent Stanley, and the occasional teenager.