Riding Fury Home: A Memoir

Riding Fury Home: A Memoir

by Chana Wilson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580054324
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,036,162
Product dimensions: 1.80(w) x 2.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Chana Wilson is a psychotherapist and a former radio producer and television engineer. She began her career in broadcast journalism as a radio programmer with KPFA in Berkeley, California. Her work hosting the KPFA program A World Wind—in which she interviewed poets, musicians, writers and activists—sparked her desire to work with people on a deeper level. Now a psychotherapist for twenty-four years, she credits the extraordinary courage of her clients for inspiring her to write.

Wilson's writing has appeared in the print journals The Sun and Sinister Wisdom, the online journals Roadwork and Aunt Lute, and in several anthologies.

Since the mid-eighties, Wilson has been playing percussion with the women’s samba band Sistah Boom.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Millstone, New Jersey

Chapter 1 White Plains 13

Chapter 2 Before She Left 16

Chapter 3 Carrier Clinic 20

Chapter 4 University Heights 24

Chapter 5 Millstone 31

Chapter 6 School Days 34

Chapter 7 Atlantic City 38

Chapter 8 Bellyache 43

Chapter 9 Life with Dad 46

Chapter 10 Sweetie 52

Chapter 11 Mom Returns 57

Chapter 12 Alone with Mom 61

Chapter 13 Barbie 71

Chapter 14 Undertow 73

Chapter 15 Overdose 76

Chapter 16 Riding Fury Home 87

Chapter 17 Happy 91

Chapter 18 Return 93

Chapter 19 Perry Mason 98

Chapter 20 Crossing the Demilitarized Zone 103

Chapter 21 Hayride 111

Chapter 22 Leaving Millstone 117

Chapter 23 Englewood 124

Part 2 Identity House

Chapter 24 Iowa Nights 135

Chapter 25 The Great Divide 153

Chapter 26 Freedom School 161

Chapter 27 By the Bay 166

Chapter 28 Older Women's Liberation 178

Chapter 29 FBI 187

Chapter 30 Icebox Canyon 198

Chapter 31 Fire Escape 215

Chapter 32 The Village 224

Chapter 33 Immigrants 231

Chapter 34 Mother Courage 236

Chapter 35 Unlearning to Not Speak 245

Chapter 36 Woman Share 258

Chapter 37 Identity House 270

Chapter 38 Promised Land 278

Chapter 39 T-Bone 288

Chapter 40 Wilderness 296

Chapter 41 Leaving Clarke Street 303

Part 3 Sinai

Chapter 42 Rheumatoid 315

Chapter 43 Diagnosis 319

Chapter 44 Intensive Care 326

Chapter 45 Halcion Daze 332

Chapter 46 Spreading 339

Chapter 47 Devil's Slide 344

Chapter 48 Hospice 351

Chapter 49 Submarine 357

Chapter 50 Sinai 359

Chapter 51 Shiva 362

Chapter 52 Thermals 364

Epilogue 369

Reader's Guide 372

Acknowledgments 375

About the Author 377

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Riding Fury Home 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
mayaspector on LibraryThing 21 days ago
In an ideal world, no child would have to be the primary caretaker of a mother. Or watch that parent repeatedly try to commit suicide. Or live for extended periods of time apart from the mother who is institutionalized, enduring repeated electroshock treatments. But we don¿t live in an ideal world, and Chana Wilson grew up having to experience all of these nightmares.Wilson¿s memoir is a truly compelling read. Not only is her story completely engaging, but her writing is lucid, honest and clear. The complicated feelings a child would have for a mother so tormented and unable to parent are described brilliantly. Not until Wilson was a grown young woman, on her own, did she discover the underlying cause of her mother¿s depression and abusive psychiatric treatment ¿ she had been in love all those years ago with another woman.In the mean time, Wilson¿s own explorations led her to being with women. Both she and her mother came out as the women¿s movement and changing times created the possibility of women living openly as lesbians. Their struggles, reconciliation and honest communication and love lead them to the kind of closeness one would wish for a mother and daughter. Not that things were always easy. Not that all resentment magically disappeared. But that healing could and did happen.How fortunate we are that Chana Wilson had the courage to write her story, in all of its complexity, for it must have taken a boatload of it. (And she had the writing chops to do it, too.) It¿s a wonder to read.
anniemichelle More than 1 year ago
It was the title that got me, then the cover and then the content of this memoir! Wonderful book of a really awful, lonely and frightening childhood. I have worked with troubled kids in the past and this story really resonated with me, my heart went out to the author as this story was inspired by her childhood. You would think that a child with a harrowing upbringing would loathe the parent, in fact it can be just the opposite. The need for love by and from a parent is all consuming with kids just as with the author who wanted a whole and normal relationship with her very troubled mother and for most of her childhood ended up being the adult and taking care of the both of them. The story starts out with seven year old Karen (the author) and her dad going to visit her mother Gloria who held a rifle to her head and had the gun not jammed she would have found herself splattered on the wall instead of at the mental hospital. Her mother is in and out of the hospital throughout Karen’s childhood, occasionally coming home on a pass for some brief and very scary times. Karen must make sure her mother does not commit suicide or pass out from too many drugs or burn the house down with her ever present cigarettes… Karen is left alone with her mom most days and nights as her father who, can absolutely not handle his wife rushes off to work each day and works late each night. It is not until farther into the book we find out that part of the mental anguish the mother has suffered is because she is gay and in the late 50’s this was still a very “taboo” subject. In grade school we see Karen being left alone to parent her parent while her spineless, frustrated without a clue father goes overseas for a job and leaves Karen alone in the house with her mom. This is the part that broke my heart, with neighbors coming over and trying to help and at the same time wanting to put some distance between them and this troubled family. The story moves on through Karen and Gloria’s life and we see the relationship and the love with these two remarkable women grow stronger. Gloria gets some horrendous treatment at the hospital, shock therapy a large assortment of drugs all to cure her from being gay and it isn’t until years later that mother and daughter finally heal and bond as Karen also comes out as a lesbian. This mother and daughter relationship is heartwarming, harrowing and from the story written here I can clearly see Karen (Chana) is doing just fine. A wonderful read!
Joshua_G_Feldman More than 1 year ago
Riding Fury Home is a memoir of trauma and redemption with an important broader significance. The early chapters of Chana Wilson's shattering memoir "Riding Fury Home" literally devastated me. Her mother's suicide attempts, her father leaving her alone with her heavily medicated clearly unstable mother; these details of loneliness, abandonment, and the terrible responsibility she was forced to shoulder struck me viscerally and I was forced to come up, literally panting for breath every few pages. I can count few books that have conveyed trauma to me as keenly ("Quiet Flows the Don" comes to mind). When Chana finds herself as a lesbian in the early seventies the story becomes one of self discovery and redemption. The redemptive aspect becomes powerful as her mother, Gloria recovers from the devastating effects of psychiatric abusive therapy, finds herself as a lesbian, and emerges on her own professional course as an educator and therapist. Gloria recovers her mental health and also emerges as a person capable of nurturing and supporting others. Chana's traumatic childhood presents enormous challenges for her as a maturing adult - particularly in terms of needing intimacy and being inexperienced in what that was or how to get it. A big part of the redemption is Chana's growing ability to say what she needs and to articulate her boundaries. With this emerging articulateness comes her decision to become a therapist - and help others with their trauma. It mirrors Gloria’s redemptive recovery. This is beautiful stuff, but the real power comes from putting these experiences in the larger context of LGBT studies and the movement and the history of the gay experience in the US. Gloria’s closeted marriage and resulting trauma and the medical establishment’s response are literally unbelievable. It’s vitally important that stories like hers are recorded and noted. They are part of the complex of transgressions that form an imperative to complete the mission for full civil rights for all Americans started by the founding fathers but hard fought for stigmatized sections of society by every generation since then. Gloria’s story, personal as it is presented here, is a call to arms for any civic minded person. It forms an important aspect of American history that has to be heard to be believed and has to be heard so that we can all understand how important civil rights really are. It can literally be a matter of survival.
FeministProf More than 1 year ago
Riding Fury Home is an emotional roller-coaster of a book, filled with gut-wrenching lows and transcendent highs. I read this book with a great deal of interest, as its material covers many of the fields I teach: Memoir, 20th-century American Literature, and Gay and Lesbian Studies. Because I recently published a book about confessional writing, I am also interested in the ways people have experienced and written about the intersections amongst psychiatry, sexuality, and women’s issues. I found this book to be a rewarding and enriching read on all of these fronts. Riding Fury Home tells the harrowing story of the author’s relationship with her suicidal mother. The childhood section, in which the mother, Gloria, attempts suicide on four separate occasions, is disturbing and often painful. After her first attempt, Gloria is institutionalized and undergoes numerous painful and debilitating shock treatments. Finally, she is sent home, heavily sedated and still clearly depressed. Inexplicably, her husband chooses to take an overseas job, leaving her home alone with her young daughter, who must cope on her own. The descriptions of this year, when the author--still only a child—had to care for her ill, medicated, clinically depressed mother, of her confused feelings of shame, anger, resentment, concern, and love, are affecting and powerful. The next section of the book moves from the trauma of the author’s childhood to the independence of college life. A series of failed relationships with men gives way to an awakening connection with the lesbian community and a joyous period of self-discovery in which the author comes out as a lesbian. The descriptions of San Francisco in the seventies, of the consciousness-raising groups, the women’s movement, and the cultural and political scene (complete with government surveillance and spies!), are valuable pieces of social history. It is only after the author comes out to her mother that Gloria opens up about her own past, revealing that her first suicide attempt followed the break-up of a love affair she’d had with another married woman. Seen in light of her own closeted sexuality, her depression can be understood as the failed attempt to conform to compulsory heterosexuality, to lead a conventionally scripted life of wife and mother. Gloria’s revelations about the ways the medical establishment tried to “fix” her by reinstating her into a traditionally gendered life provide valuable insight into the homophobia that both contributed to and exacerbated her mental illness. The book’s final sections are among the most affecting, as the author and her mother repair the damage their relationship has suffered through their shared connection with other women and with their emerging lesbian identities. Having once been fraught and miserable, their relationship becomes open and joyous, and the healing that is depicted here is cathartic and inspirational. Riding Fury Home will be of interest to anyone interested in gay and lesbian issues, in American history, and in the always complicated relationship between mothers and daughters.
frayda More than 1 year ago
A GRIPPING, BEAUTIFULLY DRAWN JOURNEY Upon starting Chana's gripping memoir of her childhood and early adult years, I could not put the book down. I was drawn into her vivid memories of life at home and her description of her mother's illness and many suicide attempts. This is quite a journey that will stay with you for a long time afterwards. The journey from fear to hope, and ultimately healing from the effects of bigotry and living a false life, is beautifully drawn as seen through the eyes of a child who has to tend to her own development and make her way in the world. That journey leads to the reconciliation and capacity to connect with her mother in both their lives as proud and free lesbians.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In prose of dazzling clarity, Chana Wilson’s memoir Riding Fury Home describes the life of a Jewish-American family in 1950s New Jersey. As we find out, this family, living quietly in a beautiful, sun-filled house, was in the grip of destructive social forces beyond their control. The same little girl who played in the woods and adored her puppy was forced repeatedly to protect her Mom, Gloria, from suicide. Gloria had met the terrifying fate inflicted upon many of our Lesbian and Gay forebears: Unhappy in a heterosexual marriage, she fell in love with a woman, lost her, and was forced to hide her true self. Descending into serious depression, Gloria was incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital and given coercive electroshock therapy. This “treatment” only worsened her fragile mental state. Chana’s father, frayed beyond breaking point, left his young daughter to cope alone with her Mom. Blessed with innate resilience and a loving foundation with her parents, Chana wasn’t destroyed by her traumatic experiences. As she recounts with gentle humor, she grew up, came out, and found the healing joy of closeness with her Mom (who also came out). Chana and her Dad rebuilt their relationship, too, as he bravely supported her journey to understanding. Finally, Chana found love and marriage with a wonderful woman whose portrait she finely draws. In healing herself and helping her family to heal, and then writing the tale for us all to share, Chana is helping heal the world of the havoc wreaked by homophobia.
JeanneCourtney More than 1 year ago
It reads like the very best fiction, with vivid details that stimulate all the senses, heart pounding scenes that keep the pages turning, and comical anecdotes that are both thought-provoking and fun. But this story is true, and relentlessly truthful, told without a hint of sensationalism or sentimentality. Personal experiences are deftly interspersed with Wilson's take on the turbulent, expansive social times in which she came of age. She keeps the narrative intimate and specific, while paying tribute to the political movements that profoundly influenced her life and the life of her mother, who, prior to feminism and gay liberation, was terrorized and debilitated by psychiatric efforts to cure her of her love for women. Wilson carries the reader directly into emotions that are hard to face, much less write about - shame, grief, rage, even the feeling of not being able to feel - and she comes out unequivocally on the side of hope. For me, that persistent hope was the gift at the center of this delightful read. I got to witness, through one woman's story, how resilient we humans can be, and how as we grow, we ultimately seem to lean toward joy.
MSpector More than 1 year ago
In an ideal world, no child would have to be the primary caretaker of a mother. Or watch that parent repeatedly try to commit suicide. Or live for extended periods of time apart from the mother who is institutionalized, enduring repeated electroshock treatments. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and Chana Wilson grew up having to experience all of these nightmares. Wilson’s memoir is a truly compelling read. Not only is her story completely engaging, but her writing is lucid, honest and clear. The complicated feelings a child would have for a mother so tormented and unable to parent are described brilliantly. Not until Wilson was a grown young woman, on her own, did she discover the underlying cause of her mother’s depression and abusive psychiatric treatment – she had been in love all those years ago with another woman. In the mean time, Wilson’s own explorations led her to being with women. Both she and her mother came out as the women’s movement and changing times created the possibility of women living openly as lesbians. Their struggles, reconciliation and honest communication and love lead them to the kind of closeness one would wish for a mother and daughter. Not that things were always easy. Not that all resentment magically disappeared. But that healing could and did happen. How fortunate we are that Chana Wilson had the courage to write her story, in all of its complexity, for it must have taken a boatload of it. (And she had the writing chops to do it, too.) It’s a wonder to read.
Helen_Mayer More than 1 year ago
Hooked the moment I started reading Chana Wilson's memoir, Riding Fury Home . I think you will be too! The book reads more like a novel as Wilson tells us about growing up as "parentified" child with a mother who was suffering, often suicidal, and a father who coped the best he knew how. Wilson's father often managed by withdrawing and leaving his young daughter essentially on her own with a heavily drugged despairing mother. Somehow they all survive and eventually thrive. I don't want to spoil all the twists and turns of the story but Wilson manages to capture the voices of each of the characters. They are neither villains nor heroes and each in their own way muddle through to reconciliation. Wilson was also able to capture the voice and thoughts of a child, a youth, young adult and finally a mature woman. This skill and her wonderful storytelling made each page a delight and an invitation. As I was finishing the book, I had to keep reminding myself that it was a true story and that there wasn't going to be a sequel. I love and hate when a book ends and I go through severe character withdrawal. I hope to hear more from author Chana Wilson!