If Nights Could Talk
A Family Memoir
By Marsha Recknagel
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312268091, 272pp.)
Publication Date: September 2001
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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If Nights Could Talk is a rich gothic story of a Southern family, a tale of wealth and emotional need that spans generations. Marsha Recknagel's memoir begins with the surprise appearance of her 16-year-old nephew, Jamie, who arrives on her doorstep and into her ordered, childless life. Fleeing a chaotic home run by Marsha's unstable younger brother and his wife, Jamie is an ominous creature-and the center of an ongoing family tug-of-war. For Marsha, to open the door is to risk opening herself up to the pain of the past. Reluctantly she takes him in. Thus begins the painful, terrifying, and extraordinary process of unraveling the damage inflicted by her family on one of its own.
Marsha Recknagel has an M.F.A. from Bennington College. She teaches creative writing at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
"...a great story about the meanness in families and the love in families, about evil and redemption..." --Susan Cheever, author of Note Found in a Bottle
"Told with remarkable clarity, grace, and courage...the most optimistic celebration of trust I can remember reading." --Rosellen Brown, author of Half a Heart
"Recknagel's story makes us less lonely. She brings out the humor and despair, describes it, and makes it manageable." --Robert Stone, author of Damascus Gate
"...extraordinary memoir...Recknagel has triumphed against great odds...against the smallness of people and against the bigness of the world." --Bob Shacochis, author of Immaculate Invasion
"We are completely won over by [Recknagel's] heartfelt campaign to save at least one thing from the wreckage around her." --Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies
"Marsha Recknagel has written the best kind of memoir--a stunning story stunningly told. " --Karen Shepard, author of An Empire of Women
"A harrowing memoir that is also a triumph of bigheartedness. . . . A gripping story." --Elle
"A terrifying weight becomes a levitating lightness as we watch them..." --Jim Shepard, O Magazine
"[A] stunning family memoir. . . . It may well be the best thing published by a Houston writer this year." --Houston Chronicle
"Recknagel is to be admired, not just for the quality of her prose but for her relentless self-scrutiny." --Washington Post