Intimate Reading: The Contemporary Women's Memoir

Syracuse University Press
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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 / Women
Literary Collections / Letters
Literary Criticism / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"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"

"[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.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the novel’s celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation—and a great friendship.
 
In 2004, with the Lees’ blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees’ inner circle of friends.
 
Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story—and the South—right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family.
 
The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Mills’s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle.
 
Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Lees’ life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.


From the Hardcover edition.
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