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My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

A Memoir

Jenn Shapland


List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (2/4/2020)
Compact Disc (3/10/2020)
MP3 CD (3/10/2020)

February 2020 Indie Next List

“This look into the hidden life of Carson McCullers is a brilliant mix of biography and personal memoir. Shapland depicts the life of one of our most beloved and least-known authors in a search for the ultimate meaning of love. It will make you ask yourself difficult questions and delve into the complexities of your own heart. Looking at Carson, Jenn Shapland makes us all vulnerable, more human, more open.”
— Pepper Parker, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA
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Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

How do you tell the real story of someone misrememberedan icon and idolalongside your own? Jenn Shaplands celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of Americas most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love.

Shapland is a graduate student when she first uncovers letters written to Carson McCullers by a woman named Annemarie. Though Shapland recognizes herself in the letters, which are intimate and unabashed in their feelings, she does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her. Her curiosity gives way to fixation, not just with this newly discovered side of McCullerss life, but with how we tell queer love stories. Why, Shapland asks, are the stories of women paved over by others narratives? What happens when constant revision is required of queer women trying to navigate and self-actualize in straight spaces? And what might the tracing of McCullerss lifeher history, her secrets, her legacyreveal to Shapland about herself?

In smart, illuminating prose, Shapland interweaves her own story with McCullerss to create a vital new portrait of one of our nations greatest literary treasures, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.

Praise For My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir

A moving record of love at the margins.
— The New Yorker

The kind of state-of-the-form reckoning that makes one wish there were more like it.
— The New York Times Book Review

Positively breathtaking.
— Forbes

— O, The Oprah Magazine

Stimulating . . . part fan letter, part detective story, and part steely corrective.
— The New York Review of Books

My Autobiography Of Carson McCullers asks sharp questions not just about the details of McCullers life but, more broadly, how we understand historical figures who confound the social expectations of their time (and our own) and how, in turn, they can help us understand ourselves.

A succinct, thought-provoking exploration of womens sexuality and the language that has been used to describe and limit our desires throughout history.

A fascinating and intimate examination of the work of archives, research and historic preservation as well as the arc of identity and social construction. . . . [an] idiosyncratic and entirely winning book.
— Observer

A beautiful consideration of the nature of proof, and of self and identity and queerness and history and progress.
— Vox

This book uncovers ways womens queer history has been ignored. Its a personal, powerful, genre-bending account of literary discovery.
— Book Riot, "Best Books of 2020"

Gorgeous, symphonic, tender, and brilliant.
— Carmen Maria Machado, author of In The Dream House

Lucid, distilled, and honest.
— Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

Remarkable. . . . A biography thats also a memoir, a story of obsession and longing.
— R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

A gorgeous, brilliant book.
— Electric Literature

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

An intriguing, genre-blending debut.
— Chicago Tribune

— Emma Straub, Books Are Magic

A beautifully written and hard-to-categorize meditation on Carson McCullers and the hidden literary history of queer women.
— Literary Hub

A mystery, a love story, a biography, several hearts on the pageI so loved this generous offering.
— Molly Moore, BookPeople

A treatise on seeing yourself in someone else.
— Bustle

An exquisitely rendered map of discoveryof an icon, and of a self.
— Lambda Literary

This book will change the way you think about the truth.
— Autostraddle

Shapland brings a sharp modern lens to her reading of McCullers (and her own) life.
— A.V. Club

Two books in one: an examination of a famous author whose narrative has been posthumously taken away from her, but also a vital memoir of Shaplands own experience as a queer woman looking for stories about people like her.
— Harper's BAZAAR

— Star Tribune

You do not need to be a queer woman, a lover of Carson McCuller's fiction, or interested in the mysterious junctures between our own lives and those of our favorite artists to love this book, but for those of us whoarethose things, Jenn Shapland's memoir is a particular trove of delights. My favorite biographies are full of historical literary gossip and interested in the shadow selves of public persons. My favorite memoirs are those that scrutinize the self as an unreliable source of narrative truth and the one we must nonetheless rely upon.My Autobiography of Carson McCullersmanages to do all of this in earnest and honest and riveting vignettes. It is a detective story and a dissection of selfhood, a puzzle every piece of which pleased me as it clicked into place.
— Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood

Tin House Books, 9781951142292, 296pp.

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

About the Author

Jenn Shapland's work won a 2017 Pushcart Prize and fellowships/residencies at Ucross, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Yaddo, the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, and Vermont Studio Center. Her essays have been published inTin House,THE Magazine,Pastelegram,The Lifted Brow,Electric Literature, NANOfiction,andThe Millions.She teaches in the Creative Writing department at the Institute of American Indian Arts and has a PhDin English from UT Austin. She designs and makes clothing forAgnes. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.