Intimate Reading: The Contemporary Women's Memoir

Syracuse University Press
Free sample

An innovative study of the contemporary memoir, blending autobiography and literary analysis to illuminole the intellectual, cultural, and emotional dynamics of life writing Maintaining that the memoir requires a more personal relationship with its readers and critics, Janet Mason Ellerby calls for intimate readings. She begins this work with her own memoir, narrating a long-held secret - her pregnancy at age sixteen, her life in the Florence Crittendon Home for Unwed Mothers, and the birth and adoption of her first daughter. She goes on to tell about the aftermath of this pivotal time in and the painful consequences of keeping a secret. Included are detailed analyses of more than a dozen contemporary memoirs by American women, all of which share a common purpose: the disclosure of secrets. Ellerby describes the costs of this secrecy and explores the possibilities of breaking intractable codes of silence. It is a study that is germane to the intellectual and emotional lives of all women. This book is the first serious exploration of a genre that has gained acceptance with an expanding audience of readers. Ellerby maintains that the efforts of memoirists to plumb their painful pas
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About the author

Ellerby is associate professor and women's studies coordinator in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Syracuse University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
234
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ISBN
9780815628866
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Biography & Autobiography / Literary Figures
Biography & Autobiography / Women
Literary Collections / Letters
Literary Criticism / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Reading information

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An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
 
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In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
"I'm an LA native with a lot of love for LA crime fiction, but instead of preaching to the noir choir about The Long Goodbye, I'd like to gush about Southland by Nina Revoyr. It's a brilliant, ambitious, moving literary crime novel about two families in South Los Angeles and their tangled history between the 1930s and the 1990s. The central mystery is the death of four black boys in a Japanese-American man's store during the Watts Rebellion of 1965. It's a powerful book, one that I think about often, as well as a huge influence on my work. Right up there with Chandler."
--Stephanie Cha (of the LARB) in GQ on "The Greatest Crime Novelists on Their Favorite Crime Novels Ever"

"Jackie Ishida's grandfather had a store in Watts where four boys were killed during the riots in 1965, a mystery she attempts to solve."
--New York Times Book Review, Ross MacDonald on "Where Noir Lives in the City of Angels"

"[A]n absolutely compelling story of family and racial tragedy. Revoyr's novel is honest in detailing southern California's brutal history, and honorable in showing how families survived with love and tenacity and dignity."
--Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon

Southland brings us a fascinating story of race, love, murder and history, against the backdrop of an ever-changing Los Angeles. A young Japanese-American woman, Jackie Ishida, is in her last semester of law school when her grandfather, Frank Sakai, dies unexpectedly. While trying to fulfill a request from his will, Jackie discovers that four African-American boys were killed in the store Frank owned during the Watts Riots of 1965. Along with James Lanier, a cousin of one of the victims, Jackie tries to piece together the story of the boys' deaths. In the process, she unearths the long-held secrets of her family's history.

Southland depicts a young woman in the process of learning that her own history has bestowed upon her a deep obligation to be engaged in the larger world. And in Frank Sakai and his African-American friends, it presents characters who find significant common ground in their struggles, but who also engage each other across grounds--historical and cultural--that are still very much in dispute.

Moving in and out of the past--from the internment camps of World War II, to the barley fields of the Crenshaw District in the 1930s, to the streets of Watts in the 1960s, to the night spots and garment factories of the 1990s--Southland weaves a tale of Los Angeles in all of its faces and forms.

Nina Revoyr is the author of The Necessary Hunger ("Irresistible." --Time Magazine). She was born in Japan, raised in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and is of Japanese and Polish-American descent. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch--and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.


From the Hardcover edition.
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