Jenn Shapland, will be reading from her debut memoir, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, at the Center for Fiction on February 20, 2020, in the BAM district.
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.
Fascinated by the untold stories in Carson McCullers’s transcripts and letters, Shapland began a quest that stretched over six years and three states, took her to Carson’s home, and resulted in this intimate, wise, and genre-defying debut. Her book is a memoir, a biography, a love letter, a detective story, and a clarion call for change in the way we tell queer women’s stories.
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 express 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.
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers is already gathering rave reviews: Carmen Maria Machado calls it a “monumental achievement”, R. O. Kwon calls it “captivating and trenchant and moving”, and it has fans in Ann Hood, Maggie Nelson, and Melissa Febos as well.THE CENTER FOR FICTION
15 LAFAYETTE AVE
BROOKLYN, NY 11217, USA
THURSDAY, 7:00 PM
FEBRUARY 20, 2020