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REAL ESTATE + A HOME OF MY OWN

By Leslie Lindsay

Two celebrated authors write autobiographies about home and writing.

Always with a Book| Memoir Monday

A HOUSE OF MY OWN: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros

Leslie Lindsay Spotlight

REAL ESTATE: A Living Autobiography by Deborah Levy

The author of two widely acclaimed novels (THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET), a story collection, and two books of poetry, Sandra Cisneros is the recipient of numerous awards, including The National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, The Lannan Literary Awards, The American Book Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, Cisneros was born in Chicago but resides in Mexico.

Deborah Levy is of the great thinkers and writers of our time, and here is the highly anticipated final installment in critically acclaimed “living autobiography” series. She is the author of seven novels: Beautiful Mutants, Swallowing Geography, The Unloved, Billy and Girl, Swimming Home, Hot Milk, and The Man Who Saw Everything.. Her work is widely translated.

ABOUT REAL ESTATE (Levy, 2021):

“I began to wonder what myself and all unwritten and unseen women would possess in their property portfolios at the end of their lives. Literally, her physical property and possessions, and then everything else she valued, though it might not be valued by society. What might she claim, own, discard and bequeath? Or is she the real estate, owned by patriarchy? In this sense, Real Estate is a tricky business. We rent it and buy it, sell and inherit it–but we must also knock it down.”

Following the international critical acclaim of The Cost of Living, this final volume of Deborah Levy’s “living autobiography” is an exhilarating, thought-provoking, and boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was captivated and awed by Deborah Levy’s autobiography, which is a tapestry of literature study–featuring many greats who have inspired her work–and Levy’s own thoughts and experiences, influences, from Leonora Carrington’s “The Hearing Trumpet,” in which this gorgeous quote is pulled:

“Houses are really bodies. We connect ourselves with walls, roofs, and objects, just as we hang on to our livers, our skeletons, flesh, and bloodstream. I am no beauty.”

But there’s also this notion of the past and present existing simultaneously as expanded on in this Gertrude Stein (1940, Paris) quote:

“After all, everybody that is everybody who writes, is interested in living inside themselves in order to tell what is inside themselves. That is why writers have two countries: the one where they belong and the one in which they really live.”

Seriously, there are so many great quotes in this book, from Levy’s own observations and experiences to those of Gaston Bachelard from THE POETICS OF SPACE, Pail Eluard, Maria Rainer Rilke, and Marguerite Dumas.

Here’s another, I can’t help myself:

“All writing is about seeing new things and investigating them. Sometimes it’s about seeing new in old [….] language is the building site. It is always being constructed and repaired. It can fall apart and be remade again.”

–Deborah Levy

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ABOUT A HOUSE OF MY OWN (Cisneros, 2015):

From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico where “my ancestors have lived for centuries,” the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection of true stories and nonfiction pieces—spanning three decades, and including never-before-published work and an intimate album of personal photos—Cisneros has come home at last.

My memory knows more about me than I do. It doesn’t lose what deserves to be saved.

–Eduardo Galeano

Here, Cisneros contemplates the structures that define us, from her Hydra, Greece island cottage to the neighborhoods in Chicago where she grew up, and everything in between, Cisneros takes us on a virtual, bookish tour into old haunts, homes, streets, and more as she remembers writing the books that are now considered classics. In these homes, she states, she can truly take root, find the inspiration she needs, and reveal intellectual and artistic influences. For me, it’s fascinating to get a glimpse into these museum-like spaces that shaped and supported an artist.

We tell a story to survive a memory in much the same way an oyster survives an invading grain of sand. The pearl is the story of our lives, even if most wouldn’t admit it.

And maybe it’s a little how art is the magic and not so much the foundational construct.

A house. A writing machine. These two go hand in hand for me. A home makes me feel like writing. I feel like writing when I am at home. Nowadays I would add one more thing to make me want to write: my animals. When they are with me, I am at home.

Again, this book is loaded with fabulous quotes.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

FURTHER READING:

  • You might enjoy this NPR piece about Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE
  • This Washington Post article speaks to Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE
  • For more about Sandra Cisneros’s A HOME OF MY OWN, this NPR piece about boundaries and borders is what inspired my reading of this book.
  • Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org.
  • These titles may also be available through other online sellers. 

A PERFECT PAIRING:

I was reminded, in part, of the memoir, TENEMENTAL by Vikki Warner meets Erica Bauermeister’s HOUSE LESSONS, but also Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE: A Living Autobiography and Anne Elizabeth Moore’s GENTRIFIER.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book in October 2021 HERE.

LOOKING BACK:

November titles were are about home and mothers and memoir with featured #MemoirMonday titles from Michelle Orange (PURE FLAME), Violaine Husimann’s THE BOOK OF MOTHER (fiction), but also GENTRIFIER (Anne Elizabeth Moore), Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE and Naomi Kupitsky’s highly anticipated novel, THE FAMILY.

To Browse all books/authors featured in NOVEMBER 2021, click HERE.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Looks for a spotlight of Victoria Chang’s memoir in fragments and snapshots, DEAR MEMORY and also a recently re-released memoir, MY FIRST THIRTY YEARS. December titles will be few and sparse as I wind down some of my own writing while gearing up for the new year.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

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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. 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.

Photo credit: K.M.Lindsay

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NAOMI KRUPITSKY TALKS ABOUT HER RAVISHING INSTANT NYT BESTSELLER, THE FAMILY, WRITING ABOUT GRIEF, FRIENDSHIP AND THE COMING-OF-AGE OF BROOKLYN, MORE

By Leslie Lindsay

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS~

Always with a Book

Leslie Lindsay in Conversation with Naomi Krupitsky

Naomi Krupitsky is an author, editor, and bookseller. THE FAMILY is her instant-New York Times bestselling fiction.

The Instant New York Times bestseller
A TODAY Show Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

ABOUT THE FAMILY:

A captivating debut novel about the tangled fates of two best friends and daughters of the Italian mafia, and a coming-of-age story of twentieth-century Brooklyn itself.

Two daughters. Two families. One inescapable fate.

Sofia Colicchio is a free spirit, loud and untamed. Antonia Russo is thoughtful, ever observing the world around her. Best friends since birth, they live in the shadow of their fathers’ unspoken community: the Family. Sunday dinners gather them each week to feast, discuss business, and renew the intoxicating bond borne of blood and love. But the disappearance of Antonia’s father drives a whisper-thin wedge between the girls as they grow into women, wives, mothers, and leaders. Their hearts expand in tandem with Red Hook and Brooklyn around them, as they push against the boundaries of society’s expectations and fight to preserve their complex but life-sustaining friendship. One fateful night their loyalty to each other and the Family will be tested. Only one of them can pull the trigger before it’s too late.

I absolutely loved this book. I mean, I cannot rave enough. It’s gorgeously told, with emotional resonance and builds emotional residue. In fact, you might feel a little in awe–maybe a teeny bit jealous–in how you might create a work as impactful as this one. But seriously, it’s just darn good.

Please join me in conversation with the lovely and talented Naomi Krupitsky:

Leslie Lindsay:

I always want to know the inspirations, the seeds of a story. What–or who–was haunting you as you wrote THE FAMILY?

Naomi Krupitsky:

Sofia and Antonia came to me first. I got the image of this polar-opposite friendship, two little girls who grow up in adjoining apartments, who complement and contrast with each other. As they came into focus, the world around them grew also.

As I started to structure and think about that bigger world, I drew on mythology and legends and fairytales, which I have always loved. I like thinking about the stories we tell over and over, the things we pass down, the stories we inherit from the culture around us. I’ve always loved retellings of myths. I like to see what gets left behind or shifted in a modern retelling, and what new things can be revealed about a story we all already know. I engaged with a lot of myths and legends to construct the world of this book. There is the myth of New York, which I was really familiar with because I grew up on the West Coast but spent as much time as I could reading fiction set in New York City. I fell in love with the city first because of the myths about it. I moved there because of them. I believe in their power.

This is also an immigrant story, a love story, a parenting story. And then the Mafia, I think, operates in our collective consciousness the way a myth does. There are things everyone knows about the Mafia—but they don’t know how they know. There is something about that combination of violence and honor and love and integrity that is compelling, that resonates really broadly. Once I began drawing on the rich well of mythology and the canon of work about New York and about the Mafia, I couldn’t stop.

Photo by Mario Cuadros on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

With any art form, I think our ideas of how it will turn out are actually very different from the reality. Was this true for you? How does the finished novel compare to the novel you originally intended to write?

Naomi Krupitsky:

This is my first novel, so if I am being entirely candid, I didn’t intend to write it at all. I spent the first two years wondering if it even was a novel, if it still existed when I closed my computer. I can still feel the wilderness of not knowing, and it still amazes me that I wrote my way through it.

But the whole time I was writing, I knew I wanted action and emotions to coexist on the page.

I think fiction is often either driven by the characters or by the plot.

But I wanted a book so exciting that readers of more emotionally driven fiction feel like it is a guilty pleasure; I wanted a book with such carefully articulated characters that readers of classic action and adventure fiction surprised themselves by loving these people. I wanted to write something that refused to sacrifice either suspense or emotional depth.

Editing this book was a long and intense process. The most salient thing I learned was how to not just express both action and emotion but connect them. The emotions in the final draft are what drive the action. The action feels like a culmination of the emotional arcs.

These two story elements do not just coexist; they are symbiotic.

Learning how to use plot and character as interconnected building blocks has changed me as a writer.

Leslie Lindsay:

The crux of this story lies in the symbiotic, life-sustaining relationship between Antonia and Sofia. Why is this relationship so unique, and why do you think female friendships like theirs are having a literary moment?

Naomi Krupitsky:

I’m interested in the idea of something being unique in fiction. I think the things that resonate widely in fiction are often not unique, but rather universal. Love—how Sofia and Antonia are born into it, how they build it, and how they alternately choose it and avoid it—is as universal as it gets. And friendship is a special kind of love. Sofia and Antonia love each other differently than sisters and differently than lovers. The bounds and boundlessness of their relationship was endlessly fascinating for me. I think anyone who has had a best friend and anyone who has wanted one will find something to connect with in Sofia and Antonia’s friendship.

My suspicion is that female friendship is having a moment in fiction for two reasons. First, women are having a moment in fiction! Women are being published at very high rates; women are writing about things that interest them, and it’s changing what gets focused on in the general fiction landscape. I work as a bookseller, and our fiction shelves are full of multiple generations of women navigating challenges together; of women who are forging into the unknown alone; of teenage girls being the heroines of their own stories rather than the props in other people’s stories. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come; hopefully someday soon, the fiction that is published will reflect the stunning diversity of the world we live in.

Second, I think love is more freely defined, and perhaps more important, in today’s world than it ever has been. Relationships can be, and have to be, intentional, and individually constructed, because there are fewer restrictions on who can relate and how (not, of course, none—and the ways Sofia and Antonia both feel constrained by the outside limits placed on them will probably be relatable to many readers, too). In this contemporary moment, love is revealed in complex glory. And friendship, which is its own kind of love but which can contain the best and the worst of both romantic love and family love, is such fertile ground for exploration.

Photo by Aline Viana Prado on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

The Family is a novel defined by duality—not just in the context of Sofia and Antonia’s relationship, but also in the tenuous lines separating good from evil, old world from new world, and love from violence. What did you wish to accomplish by exposing these dichotomies?

Naomi Krupitsky:

When I studied classics and mythology, I remember learning that the Greeks were special because their gods were flawed—selfish and greedy, violent, motivated by insecurity. The stories passed down about Greek gods enabled people to explore moral boundaries, to see their gods acting out the worst human impulses. That really stuck with me. In my own life, fiction has always been a way I could test my boundaries, complicate my instincts, and explore outside my own perspective. And as much as possible, I hope The Family lives in the gray areas between what we normally see as black-and-white dichotomies.

For example, I want the reader to love Joey. I also want the reader to see him being violent and selfish and making the wrong decisions. Later in the book, I want the reader to empathize with Saul, even as he betrays people he loves—people the reader loves, too. I want the reader to see Sofia being cruel, to see Antonia being cowardly, and still to love them, wholeheartedly, absolutely. I want the reader to see Sofia and Antonia trying to escape the restrictions of the world they were born into, even as each of them, in different ways, realizes that her strength comes from her roots.

When I read, I am more invested in complex characters who are capable of violence than I am in characters who stick to one side of the line between right and wrong.

And from a creative standpoint, the blurry center where good and evil, old and new, love and violence come together, and are sustained and in some ways enabled by one another, is the most interesting place to explore.

Leslie Lindsay:

Antonia and Sofia are opposite in almost every way. As you were writing, did you relate more to Antonia’s or Sofia’s character? Where did you pull inspiration for their unique personalities?

Naomi Krupitsky:

I think Antonia and Sofia’s contrasting personalities embody a duality I feel in myself. For example, I have Sofia’s temper but Antonia’s self-awareness. This has gotten me into trouble at times, but it’s also kept me safe and strong. I can be timid, but I can also be bold. I think in many ways I used their personalities to explore the wide range of self I feel, and I wanted to explore how each of their traits can be a gift or a curse, depending on the situation. As I wrote, I used each of them as a foil for the other: if this is how Antonia navigates falling in love, or anger, or massive change, how does Sofia navigate it, and how can those two personalities be in conversation with each other? But I see myself in both of them, and I feel really connected to both of them.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

You had to have done a ton of research to to create such a vivid, panoramic portrait of Brooklyn. Can you talk about that, please?

Naomi Krupitsky:

I did have to do quite a bit of research, but I was so grateful to be writing this book in the time of the internet! Without even leaving my living room, I could look at a map of the subway system in 1930. I could see a block in Brooklyn in 1938 and see that same block in 1940. I read about neighborhood demographics and how they changed over time. I even found Facebook groups where Sicilian Americans discussed how their specific grandmothers made specific dishes.

I will also say that any tangible, lifelike sense of Brooklyn or New York that I was able to create came from fiction. I’ve been an avid reader of New York–specific fiction for all of my life. Fiction felt like the truest form of research for me—reading fiction in order to write fiction; situating myself in the world I wanted to contribute to.

Photo by Narda Yescas on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

One of the most complex characters in the narrative is Saul, a Jewish man who arrives in Brooklyn after fleeing Nazi Germany. How did you come to this character? In what ways does he represent the cultural dissonance of this time period?

Naomi Krupitsky:

I have family who migrated from Europe to Brooklyn during that time, for the same reasons Saul does. I wanted to include that history, and I wanted Sofia to fall in love with someone who surprised her, who came from outside the world she lived in. The better I got to know Sofia, the more necessary Saul became: there is no way she would fall for someone she understood. But while Saul entered the narrative as a secondary character, he really evolved into a central one. Without giving away too much, Saul makes everyone in the Family question their own motivations for the life they have chosen. He is a destabilizing force, and his presence complicates the values of honesty, loyalty, and community that the rest of the characters hold dear.

Leslie Lindsay:

Did you have a favorite scene in the novel, and why?

Naomi Krupitsky:

I have always loved to write grief and fear and sadness. The richness of those emotions, the complexity of them, and the way they make a familiar world feel strange has always attracted me.

I have struggled to find that same richness when writing happiness, love, and satisfaction. But in this book, I loved writing Saul and Sofia’s courtship. It took a long time for me to figure out what their unique relationship would feel like, and what they needed from each other, and what they find in each other that satisfies and surprises them. And it satisfied and surprised me, too, to land on Saul and Sofia’s particular love, to figure out how each of them would feel desire, and to spend time making that clear on the page.

Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Naomi Krupitsky:

First, I hope this is just an incredibly pleasurable reading experience. I hope it is immersive and rich, the kind of story you think about while you’re not reading, the kind of story you are sad to finish.

Second, the fiction I love takes me out of my own perspective. It gives me access to worlds that I know nothing about. And yet it builds bridges between my world and its own; it reveals surprising commonalities. It is my greatest wish that, while reading this story about another time and place, people might look to a scene or a character or a single sentence and think, I feel that. I think of that warm relief that comes when you read a sentence that articulates something you’ve always felt but never understood in words: There it is. There I am. Here I am. 

Leslie Lindsay:

I think we’re all dying to know: what’s next for you? No pressure. : )

Naomi Krupitsky:

I worked on this book for a long time, and I am still coming to terms with being finished—I’m relieved and excited, but I’ve spent so long in Sofia and Antonia’s world that it’s hard to imagine being as immersed in something new. I’m going to spend the next months reading and thinking and exploring and just seeing what I connect to, and I am really excited to use everything I’ve learned writing The Family for whatever comes next.

Photo credits: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

FOR MORE INFORMATION, TO CONNECT WITH NAOMI KRUPITSKY, OR TO PURCHASE A COPY OF THE FAMILY, PLEASE VISIT:

  • 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 of Cara Wall’s THE DEARLY BELOVED meets THE WARTIME SISTERS (Lynda Cohen Loigman), with a touch of the work of Fiona Davis and Caroline Leavitt, particularly in CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD

LOOKING AHEAD:

We’ll chat about REAL ESTATE by Deborah Levy and also Sandra Cisneros’s A HOUSE OF MY OWN on the next #memoirmonday as we round out November.

Looking for your next book? New authors/titles, author interviews and insights here, http://www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book every Wednesday, but some Mondays and Fridays, too.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia | GoodReads |Bookshop.org

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Naomi Krupitsky is an author, editor, and bookseller.

She was born in Berkeley, California, and attended NYU’s Gallatin school of Individualized Study, where she graduated in 2012. She lives in San Francisco, but calls many places home. The Family is her first novel.

Author photo courtesy of PRH/Putnam and used with permission.

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.

Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Bookshop.org|Penguin Random House

GENTRIFIER by Anne Elizabeth Moore is more than a memoir, it’s a story about the American housing crisis, community, and maybe even a ghost story or a mystery, exploring Detroit, houses, more

By Leslie Lindsay

A timely and gorgeous exploration of home, culture, community, immigration, and so much more in this memoir of art, gender, work, and survival.

~WRITER’S INTERVIEWING WRITERS~

Always with a Book| Memoir Monday

Leslie Lindsay & Anne Elizabeth Moore in Conversation

Anne Elizabeth Moore has written several critically acclaimed nonfiction books, including the Lambda Literary Award–nominated Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes, which was a Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017, and Sweet Little Cunt, which won an Eisner Award. Most recently, she is the author of the memoir Gentrifier, out now from Catapult. She lives in Hobart, New York, with her cat, Captain America.

ABOUT GENTRIFIER: A Memoir:

I admit to falling in love with this book based on the eye-catching cover, the title alone, and of course, the fact that it is about a writer in a house. I mean, it hits on so many of my passions. But the love for this book isn’t just superficial. I truly loved the story. GENTRIFIER: A Memoir by Anne Elizabeth Moore (Catapult, October 19 2021) is about a queer woman writer who is ‘gifted’ a house. The catch: you must live in Detroit for two years.

And one might wonder: what’s wrong with Detroit? Growing up in St. Louis, I had a friend move away to the suburbs of Detroit. It wasn’t a big deal. But it was the *suburbs.* And the qualifier: ‘when I was growing up,’ [read: a long time ago]. It’s true, at it’s height, Detroit, like St. Louis, even, was once a very hoppin’ cool place. Factories were pumping out cars. It was lively and a vital to our economy. And then…what happened? I’m not exactly sure. Jobs were moved overseas because labor was cheaper. Company housing was boarded. Factories shuttered. Schools became derelict. The population grew more illiterate. It became less diversified. Then the housing crisis of 2008 and more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

GENTRIFIER isn’t *just* about that. It’s about one writer woman’s connection to the house, the community, her work, and also briefly, her autoimmune disease and her cats.

It is written in a spry, darkly humorous investigation, recollecting conversations and tidbits of her time at the Detroit house. GENTRIFIER is a quick read, but it’sone of those books you might fly through initially, but hang on to it, because you’ll want to go back and savor. The book is divided into sections: The House, The Neighborhood, The City, The Work…and so forth, and each section is anchored by a Virginia Woolf quote,which I quite enjoyed, having not really committed any of them to memory, other than the one about a woman who wants to write must have a room of her own.

Sections are short and snappy and do not flow in a chronological manner but sort of spiral and circle back. I personally really like this style, it helps me see the bigger picture and piece together themes and motifs, but that’s just the kind of reader/writer I tend to be.

Things do end with a bit of a twist and that became a bit of the investigative piece I am alluding to, but also, maybe the investigation was more personal and rooted in art.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Anne Elizabeth Moore to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Anne, I loved this book. I always like to start with the inspiration. What was haunting you when you set out to write? What questions—about yourself or the situation—were you hoping to answer? Did you find them?

Anne Elizabeth Moore:

Thanks Leslie! Haunting is a good way of thinking about it. When I first moved into the house, there was definitely a presence there. In the book I give that presence the voice of Virginia Woolf herself, posing a range of questions about art and life from her essay “A Room of One’s Own” to guide each chapter. But in reality, that presence was the former owner of my house. What happened to her? How can such a thing happen to people? What does that say about art and life that Virginia Woolf never imagined needing to incorporate into the woman writer’s milieu? And what does it mean that a much-celebrated gift to me, a white woman, was the site of unacceptable violence perpetrated on a Black woman?

Gentrifier ends up being a story about the American housing crisis. It’s true that I could have written this like a ghost story, wherein I would let the presence of the former owner linger but remain ephemeral.

Instead, as you say, I presented it as a mystery, an investigation. Because the former owner of my house is still alive. Reparations are still possible. The housing crisis, too, is solvable.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I was struck by a conversation you had with one of your neighbors about community. And to paraphrase from GENTRIFIER, it was defined as, ‘community is who shows up.’ I love that. Can you expand, please?

Anne Elizabeth Moore:

So many people love that quote! I’ve been marveling at how well it lands right now. After almost two years of no one being able to show up for anything? I’ve had conversations in art, writing, and publishing communities, where folks think about it in terms of event attendance; in disability communities where people think about it in terms of who can be relied upon in medical emergencies; and among folks raising young kids in the home, where the question is entirely about who will be there to make dinner during the traditional caregiver’s late-running Zoom meeting. My suspicion is that during this pandemic folks have been really thinking hard about what they need, both to survive and to be happy, and they are starting to figure out how to make changes. Obviously quitting a job and retiring early is one potential outcome of such considerations, and that is happening on a mass scale right now. But my friends are also going through a wave of divorces, separations, and breakups. One said to me, not in reference to my book, that the partner they are leaving “just didn’t show up” for them.

Community is built on relationships, and you know in your gut when folks are mentally, emotionally, and physically present to you—it just feels different when they are not really “there”.

Gentrifier celebrates the people who do show up, no matter what is going on in their lives, who are there to meet and even predict your needs, who will jump in during emergencies, who will bring dinner by even when you have already eaten.

These people are not always, or maybe ever, who you think they are going to be. Your community may not look like you in any identifiable way, or have much in common with you at all, because relationships are not in fact built on racial or religious or sexual or even linguistic grounds, although demographic factors can of course strengthen or destroy community bonds.

I think years of marketing and social media have confused the issue of what community looks like, maybe given us a sense that community might be Instagram followers or other people who own Buicks or everyone you work with at Taco Bell. But it’s really just the people who show up in your life to watch—and help—you thrive.

“A heartfelt, funny, thought-provoking meditation on the multifaceted fallacy of the American Dream.”

Booklist (starred review)

Leslie Lindsay:

Just this past week, a conversation from a non-white person went like this, “What do you like about being white?”

Um…well. And I could have a more eloquent response but, it comes down to this: culture and race is about community. This person mentioned feeling very connected to his culture, his race. I don’t feel connected to the white culture. I don’t have a ‘white community.’

I thought more about this. Maybe, at the turn of the 20th century, I would have been more tied to my Irish immigrant ancestors or my German-Catholic church. Or maybe if I were Jewish I might feel connected to the cultural and religious food traditions, my Synagogue. If I hailed from an Italian family, maybe there’d be something else I gravitated toward: A Roman Catholic church versus the German one or I may have chosen to live in an exclusively Italian neighborhood, getting my food from Italian grocers or speaking only Italian at home. You get the idea. I might have identified more with my…whiteness. Because it’s really more about culture, not color. What more might you add to that?

Anne Elizabeth Moore:

This is a complicated question, because I don’t believe that communities are built exclusively or even mostly on race or on shared cultural values. I believe that they are built on care. So while I have plenty of people in my life who are white, I would not be comfortable participating in a community that was primarily devoted to the needs or interests of white folks, which is to say, a white community. I just already have too many people I love that I would have to leave behind. And of course the notion of fostering a white community, particularly one that was deliberately established, gets uncomfortably close to white power movements and white supremacist organizations. Even searching online for resources will pretty quickly land you in neo-Nazi territory, where it becomes clear that white positivity is the face of the project to eradicate Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks from the Earth. So thinking about ways to honor or even engage in white culture get tricky fast, because far more often than not, they end with the destruction of non-white cultures.

So taking the question purely at face value, I posed it to a few friends who are not white at a party the other night and they very quickly generated a list of things they would probably enjoy most about being white were that an option: Being able to go to a doctor about a health problem without automatically being told they have diabetes; Not having men repeatedly ask where they are from, really; Being able to talk to white friends about racist things they said; Being able to get tattoos without being told they’re going to look bad. These are all super helpful for me to think about as someone who would like to see my friends thrive and be comfortable in more and more spaces in the world.

My personal favorite thing about being white is the lack of surveillance. I can generally wander around the world—really, wherever I want!—and no one will bat an eye or shoot me dead. I’m also, now, a middle-aged woman, which means that I’m no longer surveilled as an object of sexual interest either. Practically invisible! Really looking forward to perpetrating a big crime spree.

However the question does point to something deeper, which is the degree to which whiteness relies on indefinability to retain power.

White folks are given to believe that there is no specific need for community, that the entire world is established for and about their desires, no segmentation necessary (except for by “others,” another vague category into which folks of color, people with disabilities, women and nonbinary people, immigrants, or anyone else is apt to fall, depending on what is being defended against). White supremacy only works if you can’t define—or locate—whiteness. Which is to say, it works when it is always already there, so pervasive that we couldn’t live without it, like air, like water, beyond definition and therefore beyond reproach. Nell Irvin Painter’s History of White People is probably my favorite book that starts to pin down not just a history of white people, as a racial construct, but whiteness, as a cultural construct. She reminds us that, although science no longer believes racial distinctions to be meaningful or even valid, that whiteness is an ongoing cultural project that equates cleanliness, colorlessness, and purity with a certain category of people to escalate their sense of entitlement.

Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Because I love houses and homes so much, GENTRIFIER really spoke to me. Houses are one small piece of community. But it’s also about the people who may have lived in the house before you. There’s a poignant piece in the book in which a 6-year old neighbor girl is shocked that you lived elsewhere before moving into the house. You mention something about another vacant house… when the family left, what they were like, what came after, the history of empty lots, the scars. I love that because I do the same. Why do you think people find this so alluring?

Anne Elizabeth Moore:

You know, there are so many decaying and decrepit structures in Detroit—some empty, but some still occupied—that entire urban spelunking tour companies exist to guide folks through them so they can marvel at the ruins up close. Of course we know that the factories were all abandoned out of corporate greed, when the auto manufacturers decided to move production overseas to cash in on cheaper labor. And the houses are all empty because a quarter of the city’s housing stock was foreclosed in the last two decades—a statistic that doesn’t even include the pending wave of evictions that will come now that the CDC’s eviction moratorium has been lifted. This was another act of greed, although in this case the benefactor was Wayne County. Both forced evacuations are also acts of extreme violence that continue to reverberate throughout culture, and people love violence. I mean, Squid Games is not the most popular show in the history of Netflix because HoYeong Jung is a household name. (Although she should be. She was amazing!)

Leslie Lindsay:

I could probably ask questions all day—and I know—these are kind of hard. You talk about ‘holes’ later in the book, falling into a depression related to your autoimmune disease, a roofing hole, and while this metaphor of holes and depression is trite, it’s palpable. Let’s turn this into a structure question. Would you say this ‘hitting bottom’ moment helped create the structure of your narrative? The build-up and tear-down, the moving on?

Anne Elizabeth Moore:

For sure the book needed a structure, and because the narrative jumps through about 50 years, all relayed in present-tense vignettes, that structure could not rely on the unfolding of linear time. So I needed to mimic a traditional narrative arc by including some kind of emotional reckoning at the start of the third act. Since this book tells the story of my relationship with this house, that emotional reckoning was going to have to be about the depression that occurred when I realized that relationship needed to end, that in innumerable ways I could not tolerate the city itself any longer. Also I think holes are funny.

But because this is a mystery story, I needed that chapter to seem so all-consuming that the reader would not be aware that something deeper and larger and more dangerous was coming. If you notice, the “hitting bottom” you point to in this chapter is false, a false bottom. It gets worse. Structurally, I didn’t want the conclusion of the book to rest on my feelings about this house, but on the history of municipal violence against Black women that the house comes to represent.

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Leslie Lindsay:

Anne, this was so thought-provoking and stirring. Thank you for taking the time. Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten? Or, perhaps something you’d like to ask me?

Anne Elizabeth Moore:

Ha ha ha no, but I think most folks at this point ask about my cat, Captain America. She’s fine! She wishes I were not on book tour though.

Photo credits: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Anne Elizabeth Moore, or to purchase a copy of GENTRIFIER: A Memoir, visit:

  • 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 the memoir, TENEMENTAL by Vikki Warner meets Erica Bauermeister’s HOUSE LESSONS, but also Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE: A Living Autobiography and Amy Shearn’s UNSEEN CITY.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book in October 2021 HERE.

LOOKING AHEAD:

November titles all are about home and mothers and memoir with featured #MemoirMonday titles from Michelle Orange (PURE FLAME), Violaine Husimann’s THE BOOK OF MOTHER (fiction), but also GENTRIFIER (Anne Elizabeth Moore), Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE and Naomi Kupitsky’s highly anticipated novel, THE FAMILY.

To Browse all books/authors featured in NOVEMBER 2021, click HERE.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

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If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ANNE ELIZABETH MOORE was born in Winner, South Dakota. She has written several critically acclaimed nonfiction books, including the Lambda Literary Award–nominated Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes, which was a Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017, and Sweet Little Cunt, which won an Eisner Award. Most recently, she is the author of the memoir Gentrifier, out now from Catapult. She lives in Hobart, New York, with her cat, Captain America.

Author photo courtesy of Catapult and used with permission.

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. 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.

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Photo credit: K.M.Lindsay

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Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

Violaine Huisman talks about her novel, THE BOOK OF MOTHER, autotheory, structure, legacy; how she is haunted by her late-father’s book collection, and on a personal level: her relationship with her mother is so parallel to my own

By Leslie Lindsay

Gorgeous, dark, moving, and resonate work summoning the author’s late mother, her mercurial moods, her madness, and more.

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Leslie Lindsay and Violaine Huisman in Conversation

Violaine Huisman was born in Paris where she lived for her first twenty years. She runs the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s literary series and has also organized multidisciplinary arts festivals across the city. Originally published by Gallimard under the title Fugitive parce que reine, her debut novel The Book of Mother was awarded multiple literary prizes including the Prix Françoise Saga and the Prix Marie Claire.

ABOUT THE BOOK OF MOTHER:

This brave, bold, unflinching, and disturbing book is so beautiful it’s maddening, and that’s exactly what THE BOOK OF MOTHER by Violaine Huisman is about: dazzling yet damaged.

Originally published in France in 2018, THE BOOK OF MOTHER is technically fiction, but reads like memoir, so autofiction, autobiographical fiction…and it seems that’s exactly how the author describes it, saying in Vogue interview with the translator, Leslie Camhi, (the original published in French and recently translated in English and re-released by Scribner October 19 2021), that the term auto-fiction was originally coined in the 1970s by French writer, Serge Dubrovsky. The form has existed for always, and so why not?

The first third of the book describes Violaine as a ten year-old in 1989 as the Berlin wall is coming down. It mirrors the catastrophe, the victory of crumbling stones and debris as how in those ruins, Violaine sees her mother, whom she mentions right away is ‘manic-depressive,’ (bipolar), never once hinting at the fact that she isn’t mentally ill. We delve into the life of Violaine, her sister, Elsa (two years older) and their mother’s chaotic, tumultuous existence. The parents have divorced, the mother is raising the daughters on her own, but struggling in all manners. When the mother/Catherine suffers a breakdown and is hospitalized, everything changes.

Part two is all about the arc of Catherine/mother’s life. She was the result an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, grew up in poverty–in terms of finances and emotion–became a dancer, fell in love…married, but it didn’t work out, married again…divorced, but all along, we live in the perfumed air of Paris, nightclubs, boutiques, sex clubs, a possible lesbian relationship, drugs, alcohol, and more.

Finally, the sisters must parse out the complex legacy their mother has left them as they become mothers themselves.

When I love a book, really really love a book, it’s difficult to articulate why. Because it’s so resonate, because it’s hugely brave and vibrant, because I think: I could have written this myself. Here, I see a striking parallel between my own childhood, my own mother, her life and how I processed it. The prose has the unmistakable sense of urgency, a mystery, too, even though we as readers know what’s going on (the mother is mentally ill), and we have a pretty good inkling of where it’s headed…Huisman sees her mother almost as a marvel, she’s enmeshed with her madness, but never does she flat-out idolize her.

THE BOOK OF MOTHER is intimate, lucid, unflinching, raw, stunning story that digs deep into human behavior, exposing flaws, graces, darkness…ashes, ruins, and transcends the conventional novel, it goes beyond a memoir. It’s spectacular.

“A portrait of a life lived like a swiftly burning candle…gorgeous… Love hurts; Huisman elegantly examines how and why.”

—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Violaine Huisman to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Violaine, welcome. Oh gosh! I love this book so much. It’s shatteringly brave and bold, and I related on so many levels. In fact, it’s almost like we were living parallel worlds—yours in Paris and mine in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1989, my beautiful, talented interior decorator mother devolved into psychosis. She, too, had a traumatic childhood, had bouts with postpartum depression, a crumbling marriage, a life punctuated with drugs, alcohol, sex. There were animals/pets that mysteriously went ‘missing.’ I too, have a sister, though she is 8 years younger. Our mother died by suicide in 2015. So, welcome. I feel we’re sisters in this murky-child-of-mental illness. Can you tell us what sort of haunted you into this story? Why now?

Violaine Huisman:

Thank you Leslie. It’s powerful to hear that my work resonated with your own experience. And how uncanny to imagine that in St Louis, Missouri, as the Berlin Wall was falling, you, too, were witnessing your mother’s collapse!  

To say that the ambition of autobiographical writing is to make the personal universal is both a cliché and a profound truth. That’s certainly what I hoped for in undertaking this project: to make this story larger than my own, to have it find an echo in others. 

The urgency of the narrative came to me as I discovered its arc, or how I wanted to tell it. After spending years struggling to find the way to put it in book form, I realized that I needed to look at my mother’s story from various angles. First, as she appeared to me as her child, and later as an independent entity, aside from her role as a mother. But this perspective didn’t occur to me until I became a mother myself. Only then did the dichotomy between mother and woman surface as a highwire act, one that is often, if not always bound to failure. As the beautiful English feminist thinker Jacqueline Rose wrote:

“Mothers always fail… Such failure should not be viewed as catastrophic but normal.”

We just can’t do it all, no matter how much pressure is placed on us to do so. As I tried to imagine the challenge presented to my mother given her mental illness, my heart ached horribly. 

Leslie Lindsay:

For me, telling my mother’s story, it was hard, to put it mildly. When I first started writing, she was still living. I wasn’t sure how the story would end. Plus, I felt guilt or…something. It didn’t seem right. Now I worry that writing about her after the fact is doing a disservice to her legacy. How might you respond?

Violaine Huisman:

I understand your uneasiness, and I felt some of it too.

As I was writing, I kept urging myself to be more generous, more understanding, kinder.

I hoped very much that the book would do justice to my mother’s legacy; to that end, I also made a point of including the book she wrote in my narrative.

When my novel came out in France a few years ago, a handful of readers told me that they bought my mother’s book after reading mine! It’s still in print, it turns out. Nothing could have pleased me more, or felt more like an achievement. It’s a marvelous gift to imagine my work allowing hers to reach new audiences.

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I think it’s so important to talk about the idea of fiction versus memoir, and really, all of the different troupes of genre. THE BOOK OF MOTHER is referred to a ‘novel’ on the cover, but reads like memoir. The first third is told from your POV, your mother’s in the middle, and the end is again your POV interspersed with your sister’s experience. Is it because of these conventions that you chose to call it auto-fiction, rather than memoir? I’m not sure if it really matters in the end, because the result is personal and powerful. Can you speak to that, please?

Violaine Huisman:

The first, simplest answer to that question is that I wanted to take liberties with my mother’s life story. I had no interest in researching what happened before I was born, or when I wasn’t in the room. I believe the story to be true to my mother’s spirit, and overall realistic in terms of her experience, but I made it up. I based myself in part on my parents’ (often contradictory) accounts of their marriage, and then I read around that era. I had never visited Marseille before describing it in the novel; I now live there, and I’m proud to see that I got some of it right without any first-hand experience of that city.

I think of fiction, after Ben Lerner, as the mind’s imaginative power to produce order.

Life is messy, chaotic, events present themselves non-hierarchically, illogically. Fiction allows to weave a coherent narrative, including sequencing, causal relations, main protagonists, whereas memories always come with too many characters, too much irrelevant detail.

And then the more complicated response is that I had this fantasy, this wild ambition, to turn my mother into a literary character. I wanted her to be able to exist on a bookshelf beside Anna Karenina or the Duchesse de Guermantes.

Leslie Lindsay:

Of course, there’s memory that comes into play. Here’s what I’ve learned in writing—whether fiction or memoir (or autofiction): your version of the truth becomes the truth. It’s how you remember an event and so who is to say if it’s accurate, or not? We often remember the emotional arc of an event, some of the dialogue, but there’s no way we can remember every detail without it becoming too…factual. And does fact even matter?

Violaine Huisman:

I don’t think that facts matter in fiction, unless one deals with historical events. But there is such a thing as fact checking fiction. The New Yorker does it: for accuracy, precision. I find it marvelous, inspiring, and kind of crazy.

Leslie Lindsay:

Can you talk a little about your writing process? In the acknowledgements section, you write that much of this story was written as it was told to Ben Lerner. How did you go about talking about your experiences with your mother to getting the words on the page?

Violaine Huisman:

In the acknowledgements, I thank Ben Lerner for our ongoing conversation. He is an incredibly generous listener, and we’ve often spoken about my mother, yet my gratitude in this context has more to do with his reflections on literature in general, and my writing in particular. Ben doesn’t read French, but I could describe to him – often at a museum, or on a walk – something I was trying to do in my writing. He would revise a sentence on the fly, suggest ideas for transition, narrative arcs, metaphors. His novels and poetry have had a profound influence on my work. I also translated his essay The Hatred of Poetry as I was writing The Book of Mother (in French my novel was called Fugitive parce que reine). On the first page, I lifted part of a sentence from his book. I asked him for permission; he granted it.

Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

What’s obsessing you now? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Violaine Huisman:

My father passed away last winter. It’s terribly lonely to have lost both of my parents while my daughters are still so young. My father was an extravagant book collector. His personal library was housed in a three-bedroom apartment in Paris, lined with books from floor to ceiling. Roughly 80,000 volumes or eight tons of books. I’m haunted by that library at the moment…

Leslie Lindsay:

Violaine, this has been such an honor and delight. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Violaine Huisman:

I’m curious to know if you’re working on a book yourself. Thank you for your thoughtful reading, and gracious questions.

Leslie Lindsay:

My pleasure! I am just in awe with this beautiful translation but also the uncanny similarities between our stories. And yes, I am writing. Currently, the focus is on ancestral connections, making sense of the past and how that has shaped future generations, dysfunction, more. It’s more prose-y and kind of strange, dreamy, rather than a flat-out memoir or even a cultural or social narrative. The stories are all interlined because that’s how I see generations.

My memoir about my relationship with my mother is currently on submission. She was a brilliant and stunning interior decorator/seamstress who devolved into psychosis when I was ten, much like yours. She drove fast and recklessly, smoked like a chimney, was often very angry and there’s so much more. We were estranged on and off from the time I was ten until her death–suicide–in 2015. This story is about complex grief, breaking patterns of dysfunction, interiority, and more.

Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Violaine Huisman, or to purchase a copy of THE BOOK OF MOTHER, please visit:

FURTHER READING ABOUT THE BOOK OF MOTHER:

  • 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 WILD GAME (Adrienne Brodeur), with a touch of Donald Antrim’s ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL: Surviving Suicide, and PURE FLAME by Michelle Orange.

Looking Ahead:

All November, we’re focused on books about mothers, houses/homes, and memoir. Join us for a discussion with Anne Elizabeth Moore about her new memoir, THE GENTRIFIER, A spotlight of Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE and Sandra Cisneros’s A HOUSE OF MY OWN. Donald Antrim’s backlist THE AFTERLIFE, a cultural, social and memoir exploration of legacy in Michelle Orange’s PURE FLAME, a long-banned and recently re-released memoir, MY FIRST THIRTY YEARS by Gertrude Beasley, the poetry and writing of Victoria Chang in DEAR MEMORY, insights on the writing life/poetry of Richard Hugo in TRIGGERING TOWNS, and Marilynne Robinson’s 1980 debut, HOUSEKEEPING.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org. Browse all books featured in just October 2021.

Browse all book featured in November 2021

Looking for your next book? New authors/titles, author interviews and insights here, http://www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book every Wednesday, but some Mondays and Fridays, too.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Violaine Huisman was born in Paris in 1979 and has lived and worked in New York for twenty years, where she ran the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s literary series and also organized multidisciplinary arts festivals across the city. Originally published by Gallimard under the title Fugitive parce que reine, her debut novel The Book of Mother was awarded multiple literary prizes including the Prix Françoise Saga and the Prix Marie Claire.

The writer Violaine Huisman (France/USA), Brooklyn, New York, August 30, 2017. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:

Leslie Camhi is a New York-based essayist and cultural journalist who writes for The New York Times, Vogue, and other publications. She is a frequent contributor to artists’ monographs and museum catalogues. The Book of Mother is her first book-length translation.

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.

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Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

Cover and author image courtesy of Scribner and used with permission. Author photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan.

MEMOIR MONDAY: Michelle Oranage’s PURE FLAME is less of a legacy, and more of a heritage, about mothers & daughters, a reckoning with matralineal ties

By Leslie Lindsay

An intellectual, personal, and ultimately ferocious reckoning with feminism, family, and motherhood from a celebrated critic.

Photo credits: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook


A New York Times Edi­tors’ Choice

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

MEMOIR MONDAY

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 YorkerHarper’s MagazineThe New York TimesBookforumMcSweeney’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.

Photo credits: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Michelle Orange, or to purchase a copy of PURE FLAME, please visit:

  • 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.

LOOKING AHEAD:

 THE BOOK OF MOTHER by Violaine Hussman, Anne Elizabeth Moore’s THE GENTRIFIER, REAL ESTATE by Deborah Levy, more.

Looking for your next book? New authors/titles, author interviews and insights here, http://www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book every Wednesday, but some Mondays and Fridays, too.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia | GoodReads |Bookshop.org

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

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’sMcSweeney’sThe NationBook­fo­rum, the New York Times, the New YorkerSlateTin House, 4 ColumnsFrieze, 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 PostFla­vor­wire, and other publications. 

Pure Flame, her sec­ond book of non­fic­tion, was pub­lished by FSG in June, 2021. 

She lives in Brooklyn.

Author photo retrieved from July 2021 NYT bookreview on 11.6.21

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.

An exploration of the memoir that was the catalyst to Donald Antrim’s ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL, a writing workshop, prompt, exercise and more.

By Leslie Lindsay

A tender and often darkly funny portrait of a family ravaged by alcoholism, death, and more, THE AFTERLIFE is about a writer discovering his origins and his future.

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS~

ALWAYS WITH A BOOK|MEMOIR MONDAY

SPOTLIGHT, WORKSHOP, PROMPTS: The Afterlife by Donald Antrim

Donald Antrim is an American novelist. His first novel, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, was published in 1993. In 1999, The New Yorker named him as among the 20 best writers under the age of 40. In 2013, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. His most recent book, a memoir, ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL (October 12, 2021, from W.W. Norton & Co.) is profound, thought-provoking, and infused with clear-eyed examination of one’s life, but the bigger issue at hand: the human condition, sigma.

ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE:

Last week, I featured Donald Antrim’s most recent memoir, ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL: A Story of Suicide and Survival (W.W. Norton, 2021).

Link to read that Q&A HERE.

ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL struck me in so many ways, maybe it was because it was written about such a vulnerable and yet–vital–time in the author’s life. It’s about his suicide attempt, his psychiatric hospitalizations, his ECT treatments, but it’s also an urge for others to look at suicide–and mental health issues–in a new light. Throughout that book, there are references to his first memoir, THE AFTERLIFE (FSG, 2006). This book was released when Antrim was hospitalized following that suicide attempt in ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL. Can you imagine releasing a book while a patient in the psychiatric hospital? We’ve heard of the challenges of releasing a book during the pandemic/quarantine, but for the world to ‘be open,’ and yet, you, as an author, are unavailable? The books are stand-alone and do not need to be read in order, but I quickly snatched up his previous book after reading ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL.

There are just a few references to THE AFTERLIFE in ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL, but the ones that struck me were along the lines of things about his mother. Antrim’s mother was also a seamstress, like mine, who could be very manipulative at times; both mothers smoked like chimneys and were once quite beautiful. Both of mothers had Southern roots with English and Scottish ancestry.

But it was the writing of this book–a memoir–intended to be about Antrim’s mother’s death, her alcoholism, that catapulted his anxiety and depression leading to his suicide attempt.

Just one day after his mother’s death, winter: 2000, Antrim began writing about his family. In pieces that were excerpted in The New Yorker, and anthologized in Best American Essays, Antrim explores his intense and complicated relationship with is mother, Louanne, but also his relationships to others: a girlfriend, his grandfather, and father, who married his mother not once, but twice.

The AFTERLIFE is not a linear memoir (in my mind, those are the best kind; I’ll explain later). Instead, Antrim follows a sort of flow-of-consciousness, a logic of dreams and memories, vignettes. It veers off-topic (or so it seems), only to come back with a bigger, overarching meaning.

I had the opportunity to speak with Antrim about this book (and also ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL), and was struck with his candor and authenticity, the ease at which we conversed about mothers, writing, mental health, and more, and I learned, too, that his mother was also an artist and seamstress like my own. Antrim attempted suicide; my mother died by suicide. I was a psychiatric R.N., he was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. We both wrote about about our mothers and family of origin.

And while this isn’t that conversation (forthcoming from another publication in December), I will happily share some writing prompts for those who are interested in these topics.

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

~WRITING WORKSHOP~

What exactly is memoir? How is it different than an autobiography? Do the two share similarities? Are the terms used interchangeably? When someone says they are going to ‘write their memoirs’ what comes to mind?

Here are my definitions:

An autobiography is a beginning to end of a person’s life. “I was born and then…and I did this…and thought this…and…maybe I learned this and that and then…I died.”

It’s an entire life, almost like a timeline, written by that person. (A biography, of course, is an account of a person’s life written by someone other than that person).

“Writing One’s Memoirs’ is usually undertaken in midlife, maybe at a crisis point (an illness, death of a family member, retirement, etc.). They are a general accounting of life events, often told in a vignette-style, “I remember this…and my bestfriend at the time…” They are often (but not always) loosely jointed, lack cohesion, and are a cobbling of remembrances often passed along to descendants maybe in the form of letters or similarly constructed narrative.

A Memoir is more along the lines of a story about a certain time period in a person’s life; it is not about the whole life. For example, Antrim’s ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL is a memoir about his experience with wanting to jump off a 4-story apartment building, going to the psychiatric hospital, receiving treatment, how he feels the ideas surrounding suicide should be different. That’s it. There are a few backstory moments where we learn about his writing, his significant other at the time, his family of origin, but they are not THE story.

He goes from a desperately anxious and depressed man clinging to the edge of a fire escape to a man receiving treatment and support to getting better, relapsing, and finally, ending with hope.

We see a CHANGE.

There is GROWTH.

A memoir is particularly difficult because the writer must wear many hats. He is at once the author, reader, character, and editor. He must curate and prune what to share. Plus, it’s a challenge to one’s memory.

Photo by Valerio Errani on Pexels.com

~WRITING PROMPTS~

If your mother/father had only just died and you had stories about them you wanted to explore, or maybe a traumatic childhood, would you write about it? Could you extract an event–or three or four–and weave together a story? Here are the elements Antrim took and turned into THE AFTERLIFE:

catalyst–>MOTHER’S DEATH + HER INTEREST IN ART/SEWING + HER ALCHOLISM

exploration–>WHY IS MY LIFE THIS WAY? How can I learn from this and change? Was my childhood traumatic because of mother’s alcoholism?

Which elements might you choose? Where would you start your story?

It doesn’t have be linear.

Antrim begins with his mother’s death, NOT the day he was born, even though he’s writing a memoir.

In my (unpublished) memoir, I start with my mother working on her drapes and quickly move into the last time I saw her alive. I then backtrack and fill in the blanks, adding elements of mystery and suspense (although not as a device, but as truth), plus other characters, scenes of my mother’s psychoses. There are brief pieces of backstory, but overall, it’s an intimate exploration of motherhood, complex grief, the horrific summer my mother devolved, and her death.

Many folks won’t touch memoir because they feel it’s a betrayal, as Antrim felt about his book, THE AFTERLIFE. Others say you can’t write memoir because what if your memory has failed? What if you recall events differently than someone else who experienced the same thing? That’s the beauty of memoir–it’s no one else’s truth but yours. We all see the world through a different lens, based on our life experiences, psychoses, memories, etc. In this sense, one might see memoir as a fluid form. Is it truth or fiction?

Do you feel you have a ‘right’ to pen your own memoir? Permission? If not, why?

If you tried one of these exercises/prompts, let me know.

Photo credits: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Donald Antrim, or to purchase a copy of THE AFTERLIFE, please visit:

If you are in crisis and need mental health assistance, seek the nearest emergency room. You don’t have to fight alone. Additionally, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255), will connect you with a certified crisis center near where you live.

ORDER LINKS:

  • Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
  • This title may also be available through other online sellers. 

You might also like:

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book in October 2021 HERE.

Further Reading/Additional Resources related to Mental Health can be found HERE.

NEXT:

November kicks off titles about home and mothers with featured #MemoirMonday titles from Michelle Orange (PURE FLAME), Violaine Husimann’s THE BOOK OF MOTHER (fiction), but also GENTRIFIER (Anne Elizabeth Moore), Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE and Naomi Kupitsky’s highly anticipated novel, THE FAMILY.

To Browse all books/authors featured in NOVEMBER 2021, click HERE.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Photo by Izabella Bedu0151 on Pexels.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Donald Antrim is the author of three novels, including Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, and a memoir, The Afterlife. He has received awards from the MacArthur Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is donald-antrim-c-marija-ilic.jpg

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. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is c9ef8888-4b93-4a58-ac08-bfce876c3606.jpg
Photo credit: K.M.Lindsay

Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Bookshop.org|Penguin Random House

Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

Memoir Monday: Donald Antrim on his new book, one most difficult to write, ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL, how he views suicide as an illness, not an act, a battle with a long-term disease, how literature often misrepresents what its like to live through suicide, more

By Leslie Lindsay

A timely and topical call to action, a plea, about the changing nature of suicide, told from someone who has been ‘on the brink’ and back, ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL is a tender, emotional, raw, exploration of what the author posits a ‘social problem.’

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS~

ALWAYS WITH A BOOK|MEMOIR MONDAY

Leslie Lindsay & Donald Antrim in conversation

Donald Antrim is an American novelist. His first novel, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, was published in 1993. In 1999, The New Yorker named him as among the 20 best writers under the age of 40. In 2013, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. 

ABOUT ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL:

I cannot love this book any more. ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL (October 12, 2021, from W.W. Norton & Co.) isprofound, thought-provoking, and infused with clear-eyed examination of one’s life, but the bigger issue at hand: the human condition, sigma.

Through a raw and harrowing–yet beautiful–account of the author’s suicide attempt, we are led right onto the fire escape where he vacillated on the decision to end his life. For a brief, but complex time, we’re co-pilots with Antrim as he allows us into his suicidal state of mind, the downward spiral, thedark thoughts, his psychiatric hospitalization and recovery, the gorgeous reinvention of suicide.

I was struck and in awe with the way Donald Antrim reframes the stigma of suicide, how it’s not merely the result of a ‘depression,’ which he posits is not ‘near enough’ but that suicide, the act of even thinking about suicide is even bigger still and stems from trauma. This section, early in the book, resonated:



“I see it [suicide] as a long illness, an illness with origins in trauma and isolation, in deprivation of touch, in violence and neglect, in the loss of home and belonging […] it’s etiology, it’s beginning, whether early in life, or later in life, in the family or beyond, is social in nature. I see suicide as a social disease. I will refer to suicide, not depression.”



This floored me. It made sense. My maternal family is rife with mental illness, this speaks to many of origins presented, at least in my family.

ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL is unsentimental but gorgeously rendered. I found it inspiring and jarring, honest and authentic. It’s about being misunderstood, but it’s alsolife-affirming and speaks to the human condition in a way I’ve yet to see.This book is not long, but it’s complex and multilayered, delving into Antrim’s past, his writing life, along with touches of his future. I felt emotionally wrung-out as a I read, but the book ends on a hopeful note.

Please join me in welcoming the talented and generous Donald Antrim to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Donald, welcome. I am in awe with this work. ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL gutted me, and I mean that in the best possible way. Here, you take a very personal and intimate experience to reframe suicide—calling it a unique consequence of trauma and personal isolation, but with origins in the brain and mind. We’ll get into that, but first, can you explain your motivation for writing ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL?

Donald Antrim:

I wrote out of obligation. I am a writer and a patient both, and I have and have had help with both. I have strong support in my professional life, and I had written and survived memoir before, and it seemed to me that it would be a privilege to offer something to the suffering, and to those who care for us.

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Your explanation about suicide being a bigger issue than ‘just depression,’ really rang true. This whole idea of trauma and violence being at the origin, the loss of home and touch, but also about it being a disease of the mind and the brain, I get that. I saw that with my mother. She died by suicide over six years ago. I know that much of ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL covers all of this, but can you tell us more, please?

Donald Antrim:

One thing that I didn’t write much about was suicidal “social contagion”—the effective passing about of suicide among people in a shared environment or region. I believe that this contagion exists, and that its victims are made up of people already vulnerable to suicide–even people at a distance. Suicide over time and space. It needn’t be seen as a mystery, but as a sharing. And a recognition of similar or idealized others succumbing to suicide can be very persuasive and affecting to people already in some stage of suicidal illness. These are just my thoughts. I believe it is important to demystify suicide in every way we can. Let me say right now that I am sorry to hear about your mother. I almost lost my life to suicide, but I have never lost another person, and I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.

Leslie Lindsay:

Thank you for that. It really is complex and certainly difficult; no one expects to lose another person in this way. Another piece that really struck me in the book was this idea that suicide is ‘death in place,’ which yes—that resonates. Can you expand on that a bit?

Donald Antrim:

I mean to say that, for the suicide, the whole environment is implicated, as it were. Our surroundings do not save us, and may become part of our trial. Home, work, the street, the natural world—all become literally uninhabitable. The term death in place is meant to speak of a world in which suicide is, or seems, materially active and present, all around us, in every scene and gesture, just as it is present, we feel, in every part of our bodies.

Photo by u0410u043bu0435u043au043au0435 u0411u043bu0430u0436u0438u043d on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

My mother was an artist, seamstress, interior decorator. We talk about the torment of the creative type, the so-called pain of invention, the blank page, whatever…and though these are ‘old questions,’ what might be the answer?

Donald Antrim:

The answer to those old questions might be “misunderstandings.” When we think of creative types being more vulnerable to suicide, we mystify creativity and suicide both. People who have been traumatized might seek, in creative work, understanding of their own lives, or consolation. But we need to look to the trauma, to the beginnings of the problem, or we won’t find answers. By the way, my mother was also a seamstress and tailor. She was also a terrible alcoholic. I attribute many of my problems in living to my life with her, both before and after she died.

“A profound, courageous, compassionate masterpiece that will, I think and I hope, change the way we think about suicide forever. What Antrim brings powerfully to bear in this inspiring and essential book is the great writer’s habits of precision and unwavering honesty. This book is an act of generosity; Antrim is trying to tell us something deeply true not just about the suicidal, but about all of us—about our culture, about the way we live, about how we might lead better, more authentic, more connected lives.”

—George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Can you let us into your writing process a bit? For example, did you keep journals? Did you cull through medical notes? Something else? Did you ever think about jettisoning the project?

Donald Antrim:

I did not keep journals—it was too painful to do—and I only took up medical reading after a good amount of time had passed since the hospitalizations. I never thought of abandoning the project. It seemed important to me to push through, for the reason that I could, and that the book might matter to people who are suffering. It took a long time to come to the writing—it seemed dangerous—but once I did it turned out to be interesting and meaningful work. It gave me a sense of purpose, of mission.

Leslie Lindsay:

Since October is Mental Health and Depression Month and also the observance of National Depression Screening Day, what suggestions or outlets for assistance can someone access if they are feeling suicidal?

Donald Antrim:

There are a number of good hotline numbers to call. Staying close to other people may not be saving, but it will help. I’m an advocate of medical intervention and the hospital, a place that scares everyone, but that keeps suicide—the action—at bay. If the problem is severe, then treatment is necessary, and adequate treatment may likely be found in the hospital.

Leslie Lindsay:

Donald, this has been so, so wonderful and I appreciate you so much. Thank you for taking the time. What should I have asked, but may have forgotten? It doesn’t have to be literary or about the book.

Donald Antrim:

One might ask whether this book will actually do much to help others, or to help us understand this ancient disease. I hope that it will, but I am also aware that it will not solve trauma and isolation, features of the human condition that have been with us throughout history. The long-term solution to suicide might be a cultural commitment to kindness, but I don’t see that happening any time soon, unfortunately.

Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay Always with a Book. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Donald Antrim, or to purchase a copy of ONE FRIDAY IN APRIL, please visit:

If you are in crisis and need mental health assistance, seek the nearest emergency room. You don’t have to fight alone. Additionally, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255), will connect you with a certified crisis center near where you live.

ORDER LINKS:

  • Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
  • This title may also be available through other online sellers. 

You might also like:


I was reminded, in part, of the work of Catherine Cho (INFERNO) meets Jill Bialosky’s ASYLUM with a touch of THE NINTH HOUR (Alice McDermott), Leesa Cross-Smith’s THIS CLOSE TO OKAY, Kathryn Craft’s THE FAR END OF HAPPY and Elizabeth Brundage’s THE VANISHING POINT. In terms of nonfiction, NO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE (Ron Powers) and HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD (Bob Kolker), but also ….EVERYTHING HERE IS FINE (Vince Granta) and in terms of more fiction, Matt Haig’s THE MIDNIGH T LIBRARY hits on so many fabulous themes related to choices we make in life, anxiety, suicide, more.

Consider a look at Donald Antrim’s 2006 memoir, THE AFTERLIFE, which was released during his initial stay at the psychiatric hospital following his suicide attempt.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org

Further Reading/Additional Resources related to Mental Health can be found HERE.

NEXT:

November kicks off titles about home and mothers with featured #MemoirMonday titles from Donald Antrim THE AFTERLIFE, Michelle Orange (PURE FLAME), Violaine Husimann’s THE BOOK OF MOTHER (fiction), but also GENTRIFIER (Anne Elizabeth Moore), Deborah Levy’s REAL ESTATE and Naomi Kupitsky’s highly anticipated novel, THE FAMILY.

In the meantime, you can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Donald Antrim is the author of three novels, including Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, and a memoir, The Afterlife. He has received awards from the MacArthur Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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. 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.

Photo credit: K.M.Lindsay

Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Bookshop.org|Penguin Random House

Cover and author image courtesy of Norton and used with permission. Author photo credit:

GHOST WEEK: Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A GHOST IN THE THROAT is a tremendously dark and varied and authentically raw exploration of contemporary motherhood married with archaic morals, plus a writing prompt, more

By Leslie Lindsay

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS~

GHOST WEEK

ALWAYS WITH A BOOK|FICTION FRIDAY

Featured Spotlight: A GHOST IN THE THROAT by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a poet and essayist. In addition to A Ghost in the Throaf, she is the author of six critically acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the Ostana Prize, a Seamus Heaney Fellowshop, ad the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

ABOUT A GHOST IN THE THROAT:

“When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries.”

So writes Doireann Ní Ghríofa in A GHOST IN THE THROAT, a “…female text, a chat, a keen, a lament, and an echo,” and I love everything about it.

On discovering her murdered husband’s body, an eighteenth-century Irish noblewoman drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary lament. Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill’s poem travels through the centuries, finding its way to a new mother who narrowly avoided her own fatal tragedy. When she realizes the literature dedicated to the poem reduces Eibhlin Dubh’s life to flimsy sketches, she wants more: the details of the poet’s childhood, her marriage, her old age, her unique joys, sorrows, rages, and more. She wants the shape of her days–did she, too, make lists of minutiae as she does?

An Post Irish Book Awards Nonfiction Book of the Year A Guardian Best Book of 2020 • Shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize • Longlisted for the 2021 Republic of Consciousness Prize • Winner of the James Tait Black Biography Prize • A New York Times New & Noteworthy Title • Longlisted for the 2021 Gordon Burn Prize • A Buzzfeed Recommended Summer Read

What follows is an adventure of puzzling out the pieces. It’s a bit like going on a genealogy search for a long-dead ancestor, excavating the paper trails, the crumbling ruinous headstones, and more. It’s about speculation and an elegy. I found A GHOST IN THE THROAT to be a truly shapeshifting narrative, like a fever dream, flow-of-consciousness with a dark, ghostly, almost witch-y obsession.

This is a viscerally gorgeous exploration of the erasure of people, language, women, a mediation on motherhood, and translation, an unforgettable journey of contemporary motherhood married with archaic times.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

~WRITING PROMPT~

Is there an author or poet or piece of literature that has stirred you as it did the narrator in A GHOST IN THE THROAT? Who or what text would you explore? Could you become as obsessed? What lengths would you go to find the answers you desire? Is it a matter of curiosity or is there something else niggling you? A theme or personal question that continually haunts you? Would you write it like Ní Ghríofa did in A GHOST IN THE THROAT? Perhaps you’d structure things differently. How? Photographs? Poetry? Letters? Maps?

Consider this statement from Ní Ghríofa when asked why she chose the structure, the form she did,

“[…] the form chose me. When I reflect on the path to writing this book in terms of craft, I’m struck by how often I felt driven by the book itself rather than vice versa. I felt as though the book were showing me the form it needed to be in.”

This is what I think it means to be ‘haunted into a manuscript.’ There’s something about the automaticity of writing, how the words and ideas flow from brain to fingertip, to screen (or paper).

What might you write if you were so driven? If the book showed you the form it needed to be? Tell me in the comments. Write your own essay, poem, or flash fiction.

For more information, to connect with Doireann Ní Ghríofa, or to purchase a copy of A GHOSTS IN THE THROAT, please visit:

ORDER LINKS:

  • Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
  • This title may also be available through other online sellers. 

You might also like:

I was reminded of the work of Helen Phillips, particularly her novel, THE NEED, but also FEVER DREAM by Samanta Schweblin, there’s a touch of Julia Fine’s THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE, meets A MOUTHFUL OF AIR by Amy Koppelman, soon to be a movie from Sony Pictures only in theaters.

NEXT:

PURE FLAME by Michelle Orange, THE BOOK OF MOTHER by Violaine Hussman, more.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org

Looking for your next book? New authors/titles, author interviews and insights here, http://www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book every Wednesday, but some Mondays and Fridays, too.

Further Reading:

You might like this Paris Review interview with the author about her process and inspiration behind A GHOST IN THE THROAT.

You can catch me on:

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a poet and essayist. Winner of the James Tait Back Prize for Biography and Irish Book of the Year 2020, ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ was described as “powerful” (New York Times), “captivatingly original”​​ (The Guardian), “sumptuous” (The Sunday Times), and a “masterpiece” (Sunday Business Post). Doireann is also author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University), and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among others.

Image retrieved from author’s website. Credit: Al Higgins

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.

Photo cred: K.M. Lindsay

Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Bookshop.org|Penguin Random House

GHOST WEEK: An Examination of Poetry from Maggie Smith, featuring GOLDENROD, THE WELL SPEAKS ITS OWN POISON, & GOOD BONES

By Leslie Lindsay

Gorgeous, ancestral, matrilineal collection of poetry with a focus on nature.

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

GHOST WEEK

Featured Spotlight: THE POETRY OF MAGGIE SMITH

Maggie Smith is the author of Keep Moving (Simon & Schuster, 2020), Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005), and three prizewinning chapbooks. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Smith is a freelance writer and editor.

ABOUT THE COLLECTIONS:

I have been on a poetry kick lately because reading it always makes me a more insightful, deliberate writer–in whatever genre. GOOD BONES (Tupleo Press 2017), I’ll admit to following in love with based on the title alone, might be my favorite collection from Maggie Smith and I’ve read GOLDENROD as well as THE WELL SPEAKS ITS OWN POISON )both good, but GOOD BONES just spoke more tenderly to me, resonated in a way I was not expecting.

For me, a collection of poetry ‘works’ when the themes and motifs are repeated and used artistically, when they sort of collide and bounce off one another. 

GOOD BONES presents a fragmented melding of a girl in the mountains, and she may be ancestral, ancient, sort of a sprite of mystique …like someone’s mother as a girl, perhaps. She appears and disappears, much like I think she should. There’s also a close examination of lightness and darkness here, too, of feathers and sky and earth, motherhood and childrenWhat I think Smith does so well as a poet is she provides breathing room for the reader to absorb the world she’s painting. There is space to observe and allow one’s own thoughts to linger, or to fill in the blank.

Gold Medal Winner, Poetry
2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards

Named one of the Five Best Poetry Collections of 2017 by the Washington Post

Poetry also should challenge and inspire, in fact, I’d wager all writing should do this. Did GOOD BONES challenge and inspire? Yep–I found myself jotting notes, images, ideas, comments that came to mind as I read.

While the title of this collection is called GOOD BONES, one poem within is actually titled “Good Bones,” and was the ‘official poem of 2016’ and while that was 5 years ago, it is still resonate today.

Here’s a sample from GOOD BONES:

MARKED

They are alone, the woman and the girl.

The man has gone over the mountain

to work for a year, maybe longer, and the sunlight

here is a little bitter, the color of turmeric,

the same hold as the leaves floating down.

The girl has an eye like a spyglass for birds.

She must be marked, the woman thinks.

Wherever she walks, the shadow of a hawk

falls on her, the way a light trains on something.

[…]

“Smith’s voice is clear and unmistakable as she unravels the universe, pulls at a loose thread and lets the whole thing tumble around us, sometimes beautiful, sometimes achingly hard. Truthful, tender, and unafraid of the dark, the poems in Good Bones are lyrically charged love letters to a world in desperate need of her generous eye.”     

—Ada Limón

See this recent NER interview with Ada Limon

Photo by Nigam Machchhar on Pexels.com

THE WELL SPEAKS OF ITS OWN POISON (Tupelo Press, 2015) is magical and troubling, about the shimmering of time in the forest, of children, who, not unlike Hansel and Gretel, travel along a wooden path through the thickets of thorns and truth, it’s like a dark fairytale capturing darkness and light, worry and mirth. It speaks of coffins and hauntings, children and motherhood, myths, and folklore; it’s enchanting and beguiling.

Winner of the 2012 Dorset Prize,
selected by Kimiko Hahn

Gold Medal Winner, Poetry
2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards

Here’s a taste:

It’s what they call the devil, as in cunning.

When his cloven heart is hungry, he finds a way to feed it.

For every child sewn up into a sack and drowned,

candy-dipped in pitch, cut and seasoned, there is one

untouched but waiting. Name your first son Sorrowful

if you must. At least you have a son. If the devil comes

to claim him, carve the eyes and tongue from a deer to prove the deed done.

What will you tell your son

about this world? That children can be unzipped

from the bellies of beasts? No one is out of danger.

Darkness threads a needle as fast as light. As the devil eats,

bones pile under the table. Bread cries out in the oven

for fear of burning. A heart nestles among red apples.

“Some kind of primary mythic world lies behind and throughout these adult tales of ultimate matters. Maggie Smith’s skill at bringing archetypes into her own individual stories is both seamless and transforming. The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison is as much about the terrible and beautiful dreams of children as it is about waking up as a parent. This is a rare book of poems.”


—Stanley Plumly

Most recently, Maggie Smith returns to her original craft of poetry (after a successful bestseller, KEEP MOVING, a collection of personal essays and affirmations about a grieving nation), in which she guided readers ‘toward discovering growth through struggle, resilience through practice, and transformation through small actions.” -People Magazine. GOLDENROD: Poems (One Signal/Atria, July 2021) is a powerful collection exploring parenthood, solitude, love, memory, and more. Pulling objects from everyday life–a hallway mirror, a rock in her son’s pocket, a field of goldenrod at the edge of the road–she reveals the magic of the present moment. It’s a meditation on what might be the most cherished, and elusive piece of our lives.

Here, she takes a bit of poetry from autocorrect, making GOLDENROD even more relevant to today’s world.

Her phone, ‘doesn’t observe/the high holidays, autocorrecting/ shana tova to shaman tobacco,/Rosh Hashanah to rose has hands.

GOLDENROD celebrates the mundane, the space between thought and light, experience, and intent.

“Acclaimed poet Maggie Smith returns after the success of her bestselling collection, ‘Keep Moving,’ to delve into the everyday moments that make up family, love, and ultimately, life.”

-Zibby Owens for Good Morning America

Artistic images of GOOD BONES, GOLDENROD, and THE WELL SPEAKS OF ITS OWN POISON designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #bookner

For more information, to connect with Maggie Smith, or to purchase a copy of any of her books, please visit:

ORDER LINKS:

  • Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
  • This title may also be available through other online sellers. 

You might also like:

I was reminded of the work of Laraine Herring, particularly A CONSTELLATION OF GHOSTS: A Speculative Memoir meets the poetry of Molly Spencer which can be viewed HERE and HERE.

NEXT:

A GHOST IN THE THROAT by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and in November: PURE FLAME by Michelle Orange, THE BOOK OF MOTHER by Violaine Hussman, Anne Elizabeth Moore’s THE GENTRIFIER, more.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org. Browse all books featured in just October 2021.

Looking for your next book? New authors/titles, author interviews and insights here, http://www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book every Wednesday, but some Mondays and Fridays, too.

You can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maggie Smith is the author of Keep Moving (Simon & Schuster, 2020), Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005), and three prizewinning chapbooks. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Smith is a freelance writer and editor.

Retrived from The Poetry Foundation on 10.14.21

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.

Photo cred: K.M. Lindsay

Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Bookshop.org|Penguin Random House

GHOST WEEK: Is writing about family a kindness or intrusion? Kat Chow’s SEEING GHOSTS: A Memoir about her mother, race, culture, immigration, more, plus a writing prompt

By Leslie Lindsay

“[…]The archaeologists of memory, unearthing places we have wavered in going. Like all books that haunt us long after reading, SEEING GHOSTS is a courageous act of excavation and salvage.”

–Ocean Vuong, New York Times bestselling author of ON EARTH WE ARE BRIEFLY BEAUTIFUL

~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS~

GHOST WEEK

ALWAYS WITH A BOOK|MEMOIR MONDAY

Featured Spotlight: SEEING GHOSTS: A Memoir

Kat Chow is a writer and journalist, a former NPR reporter, and the founding member of the Code Switch team. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and on RadioLab, among others. She is one of Pop Culture Happy Hour’s fourth chairs. She received residency fellowships from the Millay Colony and the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She lives near Washington, D.C. SEEING GHOSTS (Grand Central Publishing, August 24 2021) is her highly anticipated first book.

ABOUT SEEING GHOSTS:

A powerful and haunting portrait of grief told through the prism of three generations of Kat Chow’s family. Always unusually fixated on death, Kat worried constantly about her parents dying–especially her mother. I vivacious and mischievous woman, Kat’s mother once made a morbid joke that would haunt her for years to come: when she died, she’d like to be stuffed and displayed in Kat’s future home in order to always watch over her.

“As a loving tribute, Chow vibrantly tells the story of her mother’s life with great dexterity and in luminous detail. … By uniting family memories, elements of Chinese culture, and an intimate perspective, Chow wraps tragedy and history into an affecting memorial. A powerful remembrance of a family unmoored by the loss of its matriarch.”
—Kirkus Reviews

Chow’s mother unexpectedly dies from cancer, just two weeks after her diagnosis. Kat, only 13 at the time, her sisters, and her father are quickly plunged into the debilitating, lonely grief, but more: did the something else cause her death? Did her father know more than he was letting on? Was foul-play at hand? Here, the story of Kat’s mother becomes a bit of a mystery. Kat delves into her mother’s cultural past and pieces together what she believes may have happened, as well as her own morbid curiosities. SEEING GHOSTS is as much a story of grief as a it is one of immigration, cultural assimilation, and more. There’s an allusive reference to the question of a possible mental illness, but this is not overt, and perhaps only projected on my part, yet there were some deeper subtext that led me to believe this could be a piece of the story.

The writing is poetic and lucid, about memory and death, birth, and so much more.

Setting designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Join us on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #bookstagrammer #alwayswithabook

~Writing Prompt~

Consider this statement from Chow,

“The immigrant family tries to preserve a history and a life that the surrounding resist. They try to invent a new way of being while always seeking a home within the negative space.”

What ways have you tried to ‘write yourself home?’ Does the idea of home truly exist? If you excise yourself from your origin, do you immediately assume the new life? What lingers? Why? Are we rooted in place or something more elusive, something inherent?

How would you reclaim your family’s story: is writing a form of exorcism or a form or preservation? If we excavate darker family truths and dysfunctions and expose them, is it a kindness or an intrusion?

For more information, to connect with Kat Chow, or to purchase a copy of SEEING GHOSTS, please visit:

ORDER LINKS:

  • Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
  • This title may also be available through other online sellers. 

You might also like:

I was reminded of Catherine Cho’s INFERNO, Gayle Brandeis’s her THE ART OF MISDIAGNOSIS: Surviving my Mother’s Suicidewith a touch of Laraine Herring’s A CONSTELLATION OF GHOSTS: A Speculative Memoir.

Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org

Looking for your next book? New authors/titles, author interviews and insights here, http://www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book every Wednesday, but some Mondays and Fridays, too.

NEXT:

A round-up of Maggie Smith’s poetry, Naomi Kupitsky’s THE FAMILY, A feature of A GHOST IN THE THROAT by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, among others.

Further Reading: See this August 2021 NPR review of SEEING GHOSTS

You can catch me on:

InstagramTwitter, Facebook|Always with a BookFacebook|Speaking of Apraxia, and GoodReads

If you loved this interview, please consider sharing it on social media. Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Photo by Caleb Wood on Pexels.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kat Chow is a reporter and writer. Her memoir, Seeing Ghosts, is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing and will be published on Aug. 24, 2021. She was most recently a reporter at NPR, where she was a founding member of the Code Switch team. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, New York Magazine’s The Cut and on Radiolab and The Sporkful. She’s an occasional fourth chair on Pop Culture Happy Hour and has guest hosted Slate’s podcast The Waves.

She’s reported on what defines Native American identity, gentrification in New York City’s Chinatown, and the aftermath of a violent hate crime. Her cultural criticism has led her on explorations of racial representation in TV, film, and theater; the post-election crisis that diversity trainers facerace and beauty standards; and gaslighting. Her work has garnered her a national award from the Asian American Journalists Association, and she’s received a residency fellowship from the Millay Colony as well as the Yi Dae Up fellowship at the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She has led master classes and spoken about her reporting in Amsterdam, Calgary, Minneapolis, Louisville, Boston and Seattle.

She’s drawn to stories about race, gender and generational differences.  

Photo retrieved from author’s website

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.

Photo cred: K.M. Lindsay

Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Bookshop.org|Penguin Random House