California Calling: A Self-Interrogation

California Calling: A Self-Interrogation

by Natalie Singer
California Calling: A Self-Interrogation

California Calling: A Self-Interrogation

by Natalie Singer


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This book split my heart open and reminded me how much immigrants matter, how much we all carry the traces of other worlds. LIDIA YUKNAVITCH, The Chronology of Water

California Calling is a lyrical self-interrogation of obsession, emigration, and identity. Natalie Singer’s story opens in a courtroom on a witness stand, where she’s forced to testify in a family breakup that changes the course of her life. At sixteen Natalie emigrates from Montreal and the secrets it holds to the golden promise of the California Bay Area, just as her Jewish ancestors fled Russia and went west for a new life. Through uneasy rituals of high school pep rallies and college sex in boats and the backs of pickups, to a summer tracing a serial killer through the heart of Gold Country, to an eventual journalism career in San Francisco and the deserts of Palm Springs, Natalie aches to forge an American identity. At once an intimately unflinching memoir and a probing examination of the family and cultural myths that shape us, California Calling calls upon history, reportage, witness interrogation tactics, music and pop culture, and the iconography of the West to explore whether we can cure loneliness through landscape. Ultimately, California Calling is a search for a state of belonging.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780998825717
Publisher: Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/13/2018
Pages: 291
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Natalie Singer is the author of the memoir CaliforniaCalling: A Self-Interrogation (Hawthorne Books, March 2018). Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in journals, magazines, and newspapers including Proximity, Lit Hub, Hypertext, Literary Mama, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, ParentMap, Alligator Juniper, Brain, Child, Largehearted Boy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Cut, Full Grown People and the 2015 anthology Love and Profanity. Natalie has been the recipient of several awards, including the Pacific Northwest Writers Association nonfiction prize and the Alligator Juniper nonfiction prize. California Calling was first runner up for the Red Hen Press nonfiction prize and a finalist for the Autumn House Press nonfiction prize. Natalie has taught writing inside Washington State’s psychiatric facility for youth and Seattle’s juvenile detention center, and she has worked as a journalist at newspapers around the West. She is a 2017-2018 writer-in-residence at On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts collective in Seattle, where her writing responds to the season’s works and creates a conversation with the community. Natalie earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the Universityof Washington. Originally from Montreal, she lives in Seattle. (@Natalie_Writes)

Table of Contents

Prologue 15

1 Formation 17

2 Preparation 33

3 Interaction 61

4 XXX 131

5 Allegory of a Caretaking 171

6 Ex Parte Examination of the Elements 193

7 In Which New Breaks Away from Old 237

8 Completion 273

What People are Saying About This


In California Calling: A Self-Interogation, Natalie Singer brings the universal themes of longing and displacement to life in a singular, inimitable voice. California Calling is a story of yearning for a home that no longer exists, a story of place—both real and iconic. But most of all this is a book about disruption and an interrogation in which form mirrors content; the questions leveled at the narrator become, in the end, Singer’s questions for the reader, who is left to revisit their own notions of identity, home, and belonging. Natalie Singer is an important writer we’ll be sure to be hearing from for years to come.

Linda Bond

Memoirs can be approached from numerous angles: a bit of chronological history, for instance; a slice out of the middle of a life, or just the memory of a particular set of experiences that recur like some kind of life theme. But California Calling is unlike any memoir you’ve ever read. It’s unlike any memoir I’ve read either. It has to do with immigration, with families that break up, with moving to a new country and a new life. It’s written as though the author is being interrogated. It’s written as though her whole heart is in it. It’s written for her and it’s written for you, and for me and for anyone who is willing to open their heart to the reality of what it means to be an immigrant in our country. Absolutely heart-wrenching and heart-healing. I loved it!

The Chronology of Water - LIDIA YUKNAVITCH

If epic longing for an identity could be cured by entering a story, California Calling: A Self Interrogation is the roadmap. Natalie Singer gives us the beating heart of an immigrant entering that mythic place we call the west. By and through the body of a girl becoming a woman we are reminded just how tricky forging a self is against the fractures and earthquakes and soul fires of life. I could hear and identify with an Eastern European heartsong yearning to find the rhythm called home in the west. I know both of those songs. This book split my heart open and reminded me how much immigrants matter, how much we all carry the traces of of other worlds.

Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning - CLAIRE DEDERER

I couldn’t stop reading California Calling—I consumed it in one gorgeous gulp. Natalie Singer writes beautifully of an ordinary, extraordinary coming of age. In prose that’s lean and elegant and fiercely honest, she captures the big pain and the small, real joys of growing up. This book shimmers like a California dream.

The Gifts of the Body - REBECCA BROWN

Natalie Singer’s wonderful debut is about the myths we tell ourselves about ourselves as nations and individuals, and what we do when we learn about the truth beneath those myths. Singer situates California Calling within the geographic, literary and pop culture of the American West but the story she tells will ring true to anyone who is or knows a daughter, a woman, an immigrant.


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