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Thursday, 7:00 pm February 20, 2020
After discovering heartfelt love letters between Carson McCullers and writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, memoirist Jenn Shapland embarks on an intense study into McCuller’s complicated life. By weaving her own story, Shapland “remakes the boundaries between criticism, biography, and autobiography in search of two identities.”
Shapland will discuss writing and researching My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (Tin House Books) with Cyrus Grace Dunham, author of A Year Without a Name. Jazmine Hughes, story editor at New York Times, will moderate.
Jenn Shapland is a writer living in New Mexico. Her nonfiction has been published in Tin House, Outside, the Lifted Brow, Essay Daily, and elsewhere. She won the 2019 Rabkin Foundation Award for art journalism, and her essay “Finders, Keepers” won a 2017 Pushcart Prize. She teaches as an adjunct in the Creative Writing department at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. My Autobiography of Carson McCullers is her first book.
Cyrus Grace Dunham
Cyrus Grace Dunham
Cyrus Grace Dunham is a writer and organizer living in Los Angeles. A Year Without a Name: A Memoir is their first book.
Jazmine Hughes is a story editor for the New York Times magazine. Previously, she worked as a contributing editor for the Hairpin, a blog. She has been published in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Elle, Gawker and the New Republic.
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
By Jenn Shapland
Published by Tin House Books
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 are 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 see the way Carson’s story has become a way to articulate something about herself. The results articulate 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.
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.
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