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My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349015682

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 7th April 2022

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General

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‘Fascinating and intimate’ OBSERVER

‘Lucid, distilled, honest’ MAGGIE NELSON

‘Gorgeous, symphonic, tender’ CARMEN MARIA MACHADO

How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered – an icon and idol – alongside your own?

Jenn Shapland’s celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory and love. Interweaving her own story with McCullers’, Shapland shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.

‘A moving record of love at the margins’ NEW YORKER

‘A call to arms to reappraise past lives’ THE TIMES


The truth about Carson McCullers, the great American gothic writer, is finally told . . . What makes this such an unusual work, far removed from conventional biography, is that it's as much Shapland's story as it is McCullers's. In the process of recasting McCullers, Shapland finds her own identity . . . My Autobiography of Carson McCullers is the result: impeccably young, modern and fresh, an assertion of lesbian liberation. Political and at times polemical, it's a call to arms to reappraise past lives . . . beautifully and sparsely written
Melanie Reid, The Times (Ireland)
Intelligent and invigorating . . . it is sharp-eyed and sensitive about biography as a form, and it is a vital piece of life-writing in its own right
New Statesman
Weird and un-categorisable (in a good way)
Guardian (Nonfiction to look out for in 2021)
A very interesting and innovative work
Irish Times
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
The kind of state-of-the-form reckoning that makes one wish there were more like it
New York Times Book Review
Weaves together biography and memoir . . . Shards of the author's own life glitter amid the story of McCullers's triumphs and struggles . . . A lively cast of walk-on characters includes Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bowen, Edith Sitwell and Robert Lowell . . . But it is Shapland's identification with her subject that energises the book . . . Only an accomplished writer could marshal this tricky material in order to enmesh two stories. The reader sees McCullers afresh in these pages . . . The politics of female queerness are central to this book, and Shapland handles the subject adroidy. At the same time, this volume, which I admire and recommend without reservation, speaks clearly and universally of the human heart, and specifically of the human heart in conflict with itself
Sara Wheeler, Literary Review
A moving record of love at the margins
New Yorker
In lucid, distilled, honest prose, Jenn Shapland teaches us about McCullers, the desire for recognition, loneliness, the complexities of queer history, the seductions and resistances of the archive and, all throughout, love
Maggie Nelson