My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

by Jenn Shapland

Hardcover

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Overview

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

“Gorgeous, symphonic, tender, and brilliant, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers is a monumental achievement." —Carmen Maria Machado

While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters of Carson and a woman named Annemarie—letters that are tender, intimate, and unabashed in their feelings. Shapland recognizes herself in the letters’ language—but does not see Carson as history has portrayed her.

And so, Shapland is compelled to undertake a recovery of the full narrative and language of Carson's life: She wades through the therapy transcripts; she stays at Carson’s childhood home, where she lounges in her bathtub and eats delivery pizza; she relives Carson’s days at her beloved Yaddo. As Shapland reckons with the expanding and collapsing distance between her and Carson, she sees the way Carson’s story has become a way to articulate something about herself. The results reveal something entirely new not only about this one remarkable, walleyed life, but about the way we tell queer love stories.

In genre-defying vignettes, Jenn Shapland interweaves her own story with Carson McCullers’s to create a vital new portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781947793286
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Sales rank: 75,453
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jenn Shapland's work won a 2017 Pushcart Prize and fellowships/residencies at Ucross, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Yaddo, the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, and Vermont Studio Center. Her essays have been published in Tin House, THE Magazine, Pastelegram, The Lifted Brow, Electric Literature, NANOfiction, and The Millions. She teaches in the Creative Writing department at the Institute of American Indian Arts and has a PhD in English from UT Austin. She designs and makes clothing for Agnes. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xv

Question 1

Articulation 3

Correspondence 5

The Soul's Particular Territories 12

Derangement, or Why I Write 19

Caves 24

Chick-fil-A 28

Tree Houses and Telephone Booths 30

That Girl 35

Qualifications 38

A Free Love 45

Windows 51

Unforeseen Events 54

Becomings 60

February House 67

Imaginary Friends 70

Prove It on Me Blues 76

Dedications 81

Ambivalences 85

Convalescence 90

Parasites 94

Homebodies 95

Rules 97

My Rainbow Youth 98

Portals 106

Item 8 107

Items 42-45 108

Items Unlocated 109

Womanish 110

On Exposure 116

Conflation 120

The Hunt 121

Semantics 124

Separate Bedrooms 125

Androgyny 129

They/Them 134

Confidantes 137

The High Line 142

Threesomes 146

Recliner 150

Ontological Destabilization 155

Googling 159

Preaching 161

List of Carson's Possible Girlfriends 163

Other Likely Lesbians 165

Second Marriages 166

Dedications 171

Fury and Disaster 172

In Sickness 175

Witch Hunt 181

This Mad Desire for Travel 186

Going West 191

Coping Mechanisms 195

Seismographs 200

Diagnosis 203

Blue Chair 205

Organ 207

Last Love 209

Not Yet 211

First Loves 213

Dream 215

Matters of Taste 217

Dedications 221

Dream 222

Your Name 223

Forensics 227

Expurgation 231

Lies, Secrets, and Silence 233

Myth Mania 235

Recognition 240

The Silencing Force 244

Proximity 245

Myopia 247

September 29, 1967 248

September 29, 2016 249

Love and Winter 250

The Dead 251

Dream 252

Note to Self 253

Euphemisms 254

Acknowledgments 257

Sources 259

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