By Leslie Lindsay
An intellectual, personal, and ultimately ferocious reckoning with feminism, family, and motherhood from a celebrated critic.
A New York Times Editors’ Choice
~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~
Featured Spotlight: PURE FLAME by Michelle Orange
Michelle Orange is the author of the essay collection This Is Running for Your Life, named a best book of 2013 by The New Yorker. Her writing has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, Bookforum, McSweeney’s, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is a contributing editor. She teaches in the graduate writing programs at Goucher College and Columbia University.
ABOUT PURE FLAME:
During one of the texting sessions that became our habit over the period I now think of as both late and early in our relationship, my mother revealed the existence of someone named Janis Jerome.
So begins Michelle Orange’s extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of maternal legacy―in her own family and across a century of seismic change. Jerome, she learns, is one of her mother’s many alter egos: the name used in a case study, eventually sold to the Harvard Business Review, about her mother’s midlife choice to leave her husband and children to pursue career opportunities in a bigger city. A flashpoint in the lives of both mother and daughter, the decision forms the heart of a broader exploration of the impact of feminism on what Adrienne Rich called “the great unwritten story”: that of the mother-daughter bond.
“Sometimes achingly sad, but often warm and evocative, this reckoning between mothers and daughters is a brilliant work of feminist critique.”
–Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle
The death of Orange’s maternal grandmother at nearly ninety-six and the fear that her mother’s more “successful” life will not be as long bring new urgency to her questions about the woman whose absence and anger helped shape her life.
Through a blend of memoir, social history, and cultural criticism, Pure Flame (FSG, June 2021) pursues a chain of personal, intellectual, and collective inheritance, tracing the forces that helped transform the world and what a woman might expect from it.
Told with warmth and rigor, Orange’s account of her mother’s life and their relationship is pressurized in critical and unexpected ways, resulting in an essential, revelatory meditation on becoming, selfhood, freedom, mortality, storytelling, and what it means to be a mother’s daughter now.
For more information, to connect with Michelle Orange, or to purchase a copy of PURE FLAME, please visit:
- New York Times Book Review of PURE FLAME
- Michelle Orange on the MidDay podcast
- Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
- This title may also be available through other online sellers.
A PERFECT PAIRING:
I was reminded, in part, of SHADOW DAUGHTER by Harriet Brown, meets IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY by Bobi Conn, along with the work of Ariel Gore, Gayle Brandeis (particularly THE ART OF MISDIAGNOSIS), and perhaps WILD GAME by Adrienne Brodeur.
THE BOOK OF MOTHER by Violaine Hussman, Anne Elizabeth Moore’s THE GENTRIFIER, REAL ESTATE by Deborah Levy, more.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michelle Orange was born and raised in London, Ontario. After graduating from the University of Toronto (double major in English and film) she worked as a producer in the education and children’s divisions of TVOntario.
In 2003, she moved to New York City to join the graduate film studies program at New York University. Michelle’s writing has since appeared in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Nation, Bookforum, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Slate, Tin House, 4 Columns, Frieze, the Village Voice, and other publications. She is a contributing editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is also a columnist. She is VQR’s 2019 winner of the Staige D. Blackford Prize for nonfiction.
She is the editor of From the Notebook: The Unwritten Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a collection published in issue 22 of McSweeney’s featuring stories by Sigrid Nunez, Miriam Toews, Lydia Millet, and many more. Her work appears in several anthologies, including Best Sex Writing 2006 and Should I Go to Grad School? (Bloomsbury, 2014), and Best Canadian Essays 2020.
She teaches in the graduate writing programs at Goucher College and Columbia University, and has been an invited guest and speaker at various institutions, including Yale University, New York University, Goucher College, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of San Francisco.
This Is Running for Your Life: Essays, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2013, was named a best book of the year by the New Yorker, the National Post, Flavorwire, and other publications.
Pure Flame, her second book of nonfiction, was published by FSG in June, 2021.
She lives in Brooklyn.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsay is the creator and host of the award-winning author interview series, “Always with a Book.” Since 2013, Leslie, named “one of the most influential book reviewers” by Jane Friedman, ranks in the top 1% of all GoodReads reviewers and has conducted over 700 warm, inquisitive conversations with authors as wide-ranging as Robert Kolker and Shari Lapena to Helen Phillips and Mary Beth Keane, making her website a go-to for book lovers world-wide. Her writing & photography have appeared in various print journals and online, including Psychology Today, Mud Season Review, A Door = Jar, Mutha, Literary Mama, The Manifest-Station, among others. She is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, an audiobook narrated by Leslie from Penguin Random House. A former psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic, Leslie’s memoir, MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness, & Memory, is currently on submission with Catalyst Literary Management. Leslie resides in the Chicago area with her family.