Description Hide Description- Show Description+
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD**
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―letter 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.
Author: Jenn Shapland
Paperback Published 9 February 2021 296 pages
“Gorgeous, symphonic, tender, and brilliant, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers is a monumental achievement." ―Carmen Maria Machado
“A hard-won inquiry into how we seek out the truth of ourselves and others in ways that often, by necessity, aren’t straightforward, that arrive in our lives in glimmering bits and shards. . . . Shapland’s book is the kind of state-of-the-form reckoning that makes one wish there were more like it.”- The New York Times Book Review
“An unpretentious, moving record of love at the margins.”- The New Yorker
“Following along with Shapland-as-detective is a delight, and the mystery she sets out to solve is one of those wicked unsolvables: how do we account for the apertures in language, history, and identity?”- The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Her stimulating book is part fan letter, part detective story, and part steely corrective.”- The New York Review of Books
“This book will change the way you think about the truth. . . . Shapland possesses the perfect storm of talents to push McCullers’s love life, and beautiful writing, into the light of this century during a moment when we need all the queer heroes we can get.”- Autostraddle
“This is a gorgeous, brilliant book that is all but guaranteed to resonate with queer folks, word nerds, and readers everywhere.”- Electric Literature
“This book uncovers ways women’s queer history has been ignored. It’s a personal, powerful, genre-bending account of literary discovery.”- Book Riot, "Best Books of 2020"
“Shapland interweaves candid self-questioning and revealing personal stories with a nuanced portrait of a writer who confessed her loves were 'untouchable' and her feelings 'inarticulable.' A sensitive chronicle of a biographer's search for truth.”- Kirkus Reviews
“Sleek, elegant. . . . both a memoir of her own coming-out and a nuanced exploration of her magnificent obsession with the Georgia author known for her sensitive portrayals of misfits.”- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A fine narrative of how the best writers express the deepest secrets of the heart.”- Library Journal