A chilling work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun is a tale of true transformation: the story of a young woman who reinvented herself so completely that her previous life seemed simply to vanish, and of a daughter who transcends her mother’s fears and reclaims an …
A chilling work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun is a tale of true transformation: the story of a young woman who reinvented herself so completely that her previous life seemed simply to vanish, and of a daughter who transcends her mother’s fears and reclaims an abandoned past.
“One day I will tell you the story of my life,” promises Emma Brockes’s mother, “and you will be amazed.” Brockes grew up hearing only pieces of her mother’s past—stories of a rustic childhood in South Africa, glimpses of a bohemian youth in London—and yet knew that crucial facts were still in the dark. A mystery to her friends and family, Paula was clearly a strong, self-invented woman; glamorous, no-nonsense, and frequently out of place in their quaint English village. In awe of Paula’s larger-than-life personality, Brockes never asked why her mother emigrated to England or why she never returned to South Africa; never questioned the source of her mother’s strange fears or tremendous strengths.
Looking to unearth the truth after Paula’s death, Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land—and the life—her mother fled from years before. Brockes soon learns that Paula’s father was a drunk megalomaniac who terrorized Paula and her seven half-siblings for years. After finally mustering the courage to take her father to court, Paula is horrified to see the malevolent man vindicated of all charges. As Brockes discovers, this crushing defeat left Paula with a choice: take her own life, or promise herself never to be intimidated or unhappy again. Ultimately she chooses life and happiness by booking one-way passage to London—but not before shooting her father five times, and failing to kill him. Smuggling the fateful gun through English customs would be Paula’s first triumph in her new life.
She Left Me the Gun carries Brockes to South Africa to meet her seven aunts and uncles, weighing their stories against her mother’s silences. Brockes learns of the violent pathologies and racial propaganda in which her grandfather was inculcated, sees the mine shafts and train yards where he worked as an itinerant mechanic, and finds in buried government archives the court records proving his murder conviction years before he first married. Brockes also learns of the turncoat stepmother who may have perjured herself to save her husband, dooming Paula and her siblings to the machinations of their hated father.
Most of all, She Left Me the Gun reveals how Paula reinvented herself to lead a full, happy life. As she follows her mother’s footsteps back to South Africa, Brockes begins to find the wellsprings of her mother’s strength, the tremendous endurance which allowed Paula to hide secrets from even her closest friends and family. But as the search through cherished letters and buried documents deepens, Brockes realizes with horror that her mother’s great success as a parent was concealing her terrible past—and that unearthing these secrets threatens to undo her mother’s work.
A beguiling and unforgettable journey across generations and continents, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes’s efforts to walk the knife-edge between understanding her mother’s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for her daughter.
Emma Brockes writes for The Guardian’s Weekend magazine and has contributed to The New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. She is the winner of two British Press Awards—Young Journalist of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year—and while at Oxford won the Philip Geddes Memorial Prize for Journalism. Her book What Would Barbra Do? How Musicals Saved My Life was serialized on the BBC. She lives in New York.
Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close—sometimes too close—observation of her …
Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close—sometimes too close—observation of her new friend, her new lover, and herself, she might regain her footing in art and life.
Using transcribed conversations, real emails, plus heavy doses of fiction, the brilliant and always innovative Sheila Heti crafts a work that is part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy confessional. It's a totally shameless and dynamic exploration into the way we live now, which breathes fresh wisdom into the eternal questions: What is the sincerest way to love? What kind of person should you be?
Sheila Heti, interviews editor at The Believer magazine and author of several previous works of fiction, received high critical acclaim for her book How Should A Person Be?, and Greenlight hosts a conversation about the book to celebrate the paperback release. Part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy exploration of the artistic impulse, How Should A Person Be? shocked and excited critics and readers with its raw, urgent depiction of female friendships and the shape of our lives right now. Heti discusses her work with friend and poet Kenneth Goldsmith, Poet Laureate of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and author of eleven books of poetry.
The Franklin Park Reading Series celebrates vacation season with its annual "Travels and Jounreys" reading. Four of the summer's hottest novelists — Emma Straub (The Vacationers), Tiphanie Yanique (Land of Love and Drowning), Courtney Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You), and Boris …
The Franklin Park Reading Series celebrates vacation season with its annual "Travels and Jounreys" reading. Four of the summer's hottest novelists — Emma Straub (The Vacationers), Tiphanie Yanique (Land of Love and Drowning), Courtney Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You), and Boris Fishman (A Replacement Life) — along with short fiction master Aaron Burch (Backswing) will lead a tour of exotic locales, from Majorca to Paris. The fun includes $4 drafts and a raffle for the authors' books.
EMMA STRAUB is from New York City. She is the author of the novels The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures and the short story collection Other People We Married. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, Tin House, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and The Paris Review Daily. A staff writer for Rookie, Straub lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn.
TIPHANIE YANIQUE is from Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands. She is the author of the new novel Land of Love and Drowning and the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony, A 2010 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award winner, she was named by the National Book Awards as one of 2011’s “5 Under 35.” She teaches at the New School and lives in Brooklyn and Saint Thomas.
COURTNEY MAUM is the author of the debut novel I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature. She then lived in France for five years, where she worked as a party promoter for Corona Extra, which had everything to do with getting a visa and nothing to do with her degree. Today, Maum splits her time between the Berkshires, New York City, and Paris, working as a creative brand strategist, corporate namer, and humor columnist. Read more of her work at CourtneyMaum.tumblr.com or find her on Twitter @cmaum.
BORIS FISHMAN was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He is the editor of Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier, and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, the London Review of Books, and other publications. He lives in New York City. A Replacement Life is his first novel.
AARON BURCH is the editor of HOBART: another literary journal and the author of the story collection Backswing and the novella How to Predict the Weather. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, New York Tyrant, Unsaid, elimae, and other publications, and he is the winner of PANK’s First Chapbook Competition. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan