Girl Factory: A Memoir

Girl Factory: A Memoir

by Karen Dietrich

NOOK Book(eBook)

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It’s 1985 in a small factory town near Pittsburgh. Eight-year-old Karen’s parents are lifelong workers at the Anchor Glass plant, where one Saturday, an employee goes on a shooting spree, killing four supervisors, then himself. This event splits the young girl’s life open, and like her mother, she begins to seek comfort in obsessive rituals and superstitions.          This beautifully evocative memoir chronicles the next fourteen years, as Karen moves through girlhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. It illuminates small-town factory life; explores a complicated mother-daughter bond; thoughtfully unfolds a smart, but insecure girl’s coming of age; achingly recounts her attempts to use sex to fit in; and ultimately uncovers the buried secret from her childhood—a medical file with an unbearable report.           The Girl Factory deftly travels the intersections of memory and origin. Karen’s body remembers details her mind has tried to control. As the young woman mines her interior landscape for answers, certain questions persist. Where does memory live—in the body or the mind? And can you rewrite the story of your past? 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493000654
Publisher: Skirt!
Publication date: 10/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 538 KB

About the Author

Karen Dietrich earned a bachelor’s degree in 1999 at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduation, she moved to Florida where she worked as a restaurant hostess, a video store clerk, and a credit card customer service rep before becoming a high school English teacher for four years. She then earned an MFA in poetry from New England College in 2008, where her mentor was poet and novelist Paula McLain. Karen has published poetry and nonfiction in Nerve, The Bellingham Review, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the author of three limited-run chapbooks with small presses and is a member of an indie folk pop duo, which has two independently released EPs. She is currently an adjunct English instructor at The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and Westmoreland County Community College. She lives in Greensburg, Pennsylvania with her husband and their son.

Read an Excerpt

I imagine a place where girls are made. Some roll off the assembly line shiny and wet, wheat colored hair sewn into their beautiful heads like dolls. Other girls are assembled from spare parts, pieces the shiny girls refuse—a leg here, an elbow there—our maker scavenging for anything to use. Building girls like me is lonely work, no reward for the journeyman, no bright fame. Inside the girl factory, it is dark as midnight, the workers toiling away, unable to see their hands. There are so many mistakes to be made, which is why I know there must be girls like me out there somewhere. I’m the glass thrown onto the cullet belt with a smash. I break into a hundred sharp pieces. The belt leads underground, where girls like me are melted, poured into molds so the maker can try again, try to get it right this time. But I keep coming out flawed—cold crizz, chip finish, bird swing. I look whole, yet crumble with a touch. I’m thrown back to the cullet, back to the melting pot, where I keep trying to come out right.

Table of Contents

Part 1

Chapter 1 Bread and Butter 3

Chapter 2 Throw Salt over Your Shoulder 17

Chapter 3 Into the Eyes of the Devil Standing There 27

Chapter 4 Cross My Heart and Hope to Die 39

Chapter 5 Stick a Needle in My Eye 49

Chapter 6 Eat Well, You Hound 55

Chapter 7 May You Be Sick and I Be Sound 63

Chapter 8 A Knife under the Bed Will Cut the Pain 71

Chapter 9 Red Sky in Morning, Sailors Take Warning 77

Part 2

Chapter 10 Break a Mirror, Bury the Pieces 87

Chapter 11 Never Bring an Old Broom into a New Home 95

Chapter 12 Tie a Red Ribbon on a Sick Child 101

Chapter 13 If You Sing before Seven 113

Chapter 14 You'll Cry after Eleven 117

Chapter 15 Knock on Wood 127

Chapter 16 Dogs Howling in the Dark of Night 135

Chapter 17 Howl for Death before Daylight 143

Chapter 18 See a Penny, Pick It Up 163

Chapter 19 All the Day You'll Have Good Luck 171

Chapter 20 Something Old, Something New 177

Part 3

Chapter 21 One for Sorrow 187

Chapter 22 Two for Joy 197

Chapter 23 Three for a Girl, Four for a Boy 199

Chapter 24 Five for Silver, Six for Gold 201

Chapter 25 Seven for a Secret Never to Be Told 211

Chapter 26 Eight for a Wish 215

Chapter 27 Nine for a Kiss 221

Chapter 28 Ten for a Bird 241

Chapter 29 Not to Be Missed 251

Reading Group Guide 257

Acknowledgments 261

About the Author 262

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