Archive for Memoir

Alvin Orloff, “DISASTERAMA!” w/ Trebor Healy

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, fiction, biography by skylightbooks on November 28th, 2019

In Disasterama!, Alvin Orloff recalls the delirious adventures of his youth—from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York—where insane nights, deep friendships with the creatives of the underground, and thrilling bi-coastal living led to a free-spirited life of art, manic performance, high camp antics, and exotic sexual encounters. Orloff looks past the politics of AIDS to the people on the ground, friends of his who did not survive AIDS’ wrath—the boys in black leather jackets and cackling queens in tacky frocks—remembering them not as victims, but as people who loved life, loved fun, and who were a part of the insane jigsaw of his community. Includes more than 60 rare photos of the underground counterculture, club flyers, drag queens, and queer icons of era.

Orloff is in conversation with Trebor Healey, author of three novels, A Horse Named SorrowFaun and Through It Came Bright Colors




Amanda Yates Garcia, “INITIATED” w/ Pam Grossman

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, Witches, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on November 6th, 2019

An initiation signals a beginning: a door opens and you step through. Traditional Wiccan initiates are usually brought into the craft through a ceremony with a High Priestess. But even though Amanda Yates Garcia's mother, a practicing witch herself, initiated her into the earth-centered practice of witchcraft when she was 13 years old, Amanda's real life as a witch only began when she underwent a series of spontaneous initiations of her own.

Descending into the underworlds of poverty, sex work, and misogyny, Initiated describes Amanda's journey to return to her body, harness her power, and create the magical world she longed for through witchcraft. Hailed by crows, seduced by magicians, and haunted by ancestors broken beneath the wheels of patriarchy, Amanda's quest for self-discovery and empowerment is a deep exploration of a modern witch's trials - healing ancient wounds, chafing against cultural expectations, creating intimacy - all while on a mission to re-enchant the world. Peppered with mythology, tales of the goddesses and magical women throughout history, Initiated stands squarely at the intersection of witchcraft and feminism. With generosity and heart, this book speaks to the question: is it possible to live a life of beauty and integrity in a world that feels like it's dying?

Garcia is in conversation with Pam Grossman, creator and host of The Witch Wave podcast and the author of Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power.




Cyrus Grace Dunham, “A YEAR WITHOUT A NAME”

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, transgender, LGBTQ, biography, queer by skylightbooks on November 4th, 2019

For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life was a series of imitations--lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman--until their profound sense of alienation became intolerable. Beginning as Grace and ending as Cyrus, Dunham brings us inside the chrysalis of gender transition, asking us to bear witness to an uncertain and exhilarating process that troubles our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we are constituted. Written with disarming emotional intensity in a voice uniquely theirs, A Year Without a Name is a potent, thrillingly unresolved meditation on queerness, family, and desire.




AJ Dungo, “IN WAVES” w/ Jamie Brisick

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Comics/Graphic Novels, Memoir, nonfiction, graphic novels by skylightbooks on October 25th, 2019

In this visually arresting graphic novel, surfer and illustrator AJ Dungo remembers his late partner, her battle with cancer, and their shared love of surfing that brought them strength throughout their time together. With his passion for surfing uniting many narratives, he intertwines his own story with those of some of the great heroes of surf in a rare work of nonfiction that is as moving as it is fascinating.

Dungo is in conversation with Jamie Brisick, author of Becoming Westerly.




Nefertiti Austin, “MOTHERHOOD SO WHITE”

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, fiction, nonfiction by skylightbooks on October 21st, 2019

When Nefertiti Austin, a single African-American woman, decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system, she was unprepared for the fact there is no place for Black women in the “mommy wars.” Austin set off on her path without the ability to seek guidance from others who looked like her or shared her experience. She soon realized that she would not only have to navigate skepticism from
the adoption community, who deal almost exclusively with white women, but surprisingly, from her own family and friends as well.

Motherhood So White is the story of Nefertiti’s fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have and the story of motherhood that all American families need now. In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African-American community, faces off against stereotypes of single, Black motherhood, and confronts the reality of raising children of color in racially charged, modern-day America.




Jennifer Croft, “HOMESICK” w/ Marisa Silver

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on October 1st, 2019

Sisters Amy and Zoe grow up in Oklahoma where they are homeschooled for an unexpected reason: Zoe suffers from debilitating and mysterious seizures, spending her childhood in hospitals as she undergoes surgeries. Meanwhile, Amy flourishes intellectually, showing an innate ability to glean a world beyond the troubles in her home life, exploring that world through languages first. Amy’s first love appears in the form of her Russian tutor Sasha, but when she enters university at the age of 15 her life changes drastically and with tragic results. 

Jennifer Croft complements her stunning prose with beautiful color photography to tell her coming of age story. Homesick is about learning to love language in its many forms, healing through words and the promises and perils of empathy and sisterhood.




Chavisa Woods, “100 TIMES” w/ Michelle Tea

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, Feminism, adult, health, history, biography by skylightbooks on August 30th, 2019

Lambda-nominated and Shirley Jackson Award-winning author Chavisa Woods presents one hundred personal stories of sexism, harassment, discrimination, and assault. Recounting her experiences with gender-based discrimination, unsolicited groping, and sexual violence--beginning in childhood, through the present--Woods lays out clear and unflinching vignettes that build in intensity as the number of times grows. Individually, and especially taken as a whole, these stories amount to powerful proof that sexual violence and discrimination are never just one-time occurrences, but part of a constant battle women and non-binary people face every day.

In these extraordinary pages, sexual violence and gendered-discrimination happen to people regardless of their age, in all parts of society, in rural and urban areas alike, in the US and abroad, from the time they are very young and through adulthood. Demonstrating how often people are conditioned to endure sexism and harassment, and how thoroughly men feel entitled to women’s spaces and bodies, 100 Times challenges the common, damaging belief that sexism and misogyny are no longer problems within our society.

Woods is in conversation with michelle tea, the author of the young adult novels Mermaid in Chelsea Creek and Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, as well as numerous books for grown-ups.




Susan Straight, “IN THE COUNTRY OF WOMEN” w/ Patt Morrison

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on August 29th, 2019

In inland Southern California, near the desert and the Mexican border, Susan Straight, a self-proclaimed book nerd, and Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, started dating in high school. After college, they married and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Straight met her teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write. Once back in Riverside, at driveway barbecues and fish fries with the large, close-knit Sims family, Straight—and eventually her three daughters—heard for decades the stories of Dwayne’s female ancestors. Some women escaped violence in post-slavery Tennessee, some escaped murder in Jim Crow Mississippi, and some fled abusive men. Straight’s mother-in-law, Alberta Sims, is the descendant at the heart of this memoir. Susan’s family, too, reflects the hardship and resilience of women pushing onward—from Switzerland, Canada, and the Colorado Rockies to California.

A Pakistani word, biraderi, is one Straight uses to define a complex system of kinship and clan—those who become your family. An entire community helped raise her daughters. Of her three girls, now grown and working in museums and the entertainment industry, Straight writes, “The daughters of our ancestors carry in their blood at least three continents. We are not about borders. We are about love and survival.” In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women.

Straight is in conversation with Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times writer and columnist with a share of two Pulitzer Prizes.




Darrel McLeod, “MAMASKATCH”

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on July 9th, 2019

As a small boy in remote Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod is immersed in his Cree family’s history, passed down in the stories of his mother, Bertha. There he is surrounded by her tales of joy and horror—of the strong men in their family, of her love for Darrel, and of the cruelty she and her sisters endured in residential school—as well as his many siblings and cousins, and the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea. And there young Darrel learns to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that will guide him throughout his life.

But after a series of tragic losses, Bertha turns wild and unstable, and their home life becomes chaotic. Sweet and eager to please, Darrel struggles to maintain his grades and pursue interests in music and science while changing homes, witnessing domestic violence, caring for his younger siblings, and suffering abuse at the hands of his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he begins to question and grapple with his sexual identity—a reckoning complicated by the repercussions of his abuse and his sibling’s own gender transition.

Thrillingly written in a series of fractured vignettes, and unflinchingly honest, Mamaskatch—“It’s a wonder!” in Cree—is a heartbreaking account of how traumas are passed down from one generation to the next, and an uplifting story of one individual who overcame enormous obstacles in pursuit of a fulfilling and adventurous life.




Jen Pastiloff, “ON BEING HUMAN” w/ Lidia Yuknavitch

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, biography by skylightbooks on June 18th, 2019

Jennifer Pastiloff shares the transformative experiences and challenges that have shaped her into the resilient, passionate woman she is today, including losing her father at an early age, battling an eating disorder and depression, reluctantly accepting her hearing loss, discovering the healing power of yoga, writing, and human connection, and learning to believe in herself and her ability to help others. She explores how thirteen years of waitressing taught her to seek out unexpected beauty, how hearing loss taught her to listen fiercely, how being vulnerable allowed her to find love, and how imperfections can lead to a life full of wild happiness.

Through her journey, Pastiloff conveys a powerful experience that most of us are missing in our lives: being heard and being told “I got you,” a sentiment that now lies at the core of her work. Her bold yet relatable ideas have won her a loyal social media following and thousands of devotees who often travel across the globe to attend her workshops and retreats.Exuberant, beautifully written, and extraordinarily brave, On Being Human is a celebration of happiness and self-realization over darkness and doubt.




Malaka Gharib, “I WAS THEIR AMERICAN DREAM” w/ Michael Nailat

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Comics/Graphic Novels, Memoir, graphic novels, biography by skylightbooks on June 12th, 2019

One part Mari Andrew, one part Marjane Satrapi, I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir is a triumphant tale of self-discovery, a celebration of a family's rich heritage, and a love letter to American immigrant freedom. Malaka Gharib's illustrations come alive with teenage antics and earnest questions about identity and culture, while providing thoughtful insight into the lives of modern immigrants and the generation of millennial children they raised.

Malaka's upbringing will look familiar to anyone who grew up in the pre-internet era, but her particular story is a heartfelt tribute to the American immigrants who have invested their future in the promise of the American dream. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dream s themselves, Malaka navigates her childhood chasing her parents' ideals, learning to code-switch between her family's Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid.

Gharib is in conversation with Michael Nairat, aka Producer Mike, aka DJ waxstyles, who has zero formal training in DJing or producing, but is somehow still allowed to do both. 




Grace Talusan, “THE BODY PAPERS” w/ Noel Alumit

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir by skylightbooks on May 16th, 2019

Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather's nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family's legal status in the country has always hung by a thread--for a time, they were "illegal." Family, she's told, must be put first.

The abuse and trauma Talusan suffers as a child affects all her relationships, her mental health, and her relationship with her own body. Later, she learns that her family history is threaded with violence and abuse. And she discovers another devastating family thread: cancer. In her thirties, Talusan must decide whether to undergo preventive surgeries to remove her breasts and ovaries. Despite all this, she finds love, and success as a teacher. On a fellowship, Talusan and her husband return to the Philippines, where she revisits her family's ancestral home and tries to reclaim a lost piece of herself.

Not every family legacy is destructive. From her parents, Talusan has learned to tell stories in order to continue. The generosity of spirit and literary acuity of this debut memoir are a testament to her determination and resilience. In excavating such abuse and trauma, and supplementing her story with government documents, medical records, and family photos, Talusan gives voice to unspeakable experience, and shines a light of hope into the darkness.

Talusan is in conversation with Noel Alumit, author of novels Letters to Montgomery Clift and Talking to the Moon.




Sophia Shalmiyev, “MOTHER WINTER” w/ Sara Benincasa

Posted in , skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction by skylightbooks on March 4th, 2019

From Laurels Award Fellowship recipient Sophia Shalmiyev comes the exquisite Mother Winter, a haunting and deeply personal story of fleeing the Soviet Union, where Shalmiyev was forced to abandon her mother, and her subsequent years of searching for surrogate mothers—whether in books, art, lovers, or other lost souls.

Mother Winter is the story of Sophia’s emotional journeys as an immigrant, an artist, and a motherless woman now raising children of her own. Born to a Russian mother and an Azerbaijani father, Shalmiyev grew up in the stark oppressiveness of 1980s Leningrad. When her father packed up for a new life in America, he took Sophia with him but left behind her estranged and alcoholic mother, Elena. At age eleven, Shalmiyev found herself on a plane headed west, motherless and terrified of the new world unfolding before her.

The book depicts in urgent vignettes Sophia’s subsequent years of travel, searching, and forging meaningful connections. She describes her tumultuous childhood in the USSR; her experiences as a refugee; the life she built for herself in the Pacific Northwest; and her cathartic journey back to Russia as an adult to search for the mother she never knew.

Shalmiyev is in conversation with Sara Benincasa, a stand-up comedian, actress, and the author of Real Artists Have Day Jobs.




Tosh Berman, “TOSH” w/ Jason Schwartzman

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, San Francisco, Memoir, nonfiction, art by skylightbooks on February 11th, 2019

TOSH is a memoir of growing up as the son of an enigmatic, much-admired, hermetic, and ruthlessly bohemian artist during the waning years of the Beat Generation and the heyday of hippie counterculture. A critical figure in the history of postwar American culture, Tosh Berman's father, Wallace Berman, was known as the "father of assemblage art," and was the creator of the legendary mail-art publication Semina. Wallace Berman and his wife, famed beauty and artist's muse Shirley Berman, raised Tosh between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and their home life was a heady atmosphere of art, music, and literature, with local and international luminaries regularly passing through.

Tosh's unconventional childhood and peculiar journey to adulthood features an array of famous characters, from George Herms and Marcel Duchamp, to Michael McClure and William S. Burroughs, to Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell, to the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and Toni Basil.

Tosh is joined by actor, screenwriter, and musician Jason Schwartzman.




Nadya Tolokonnikova, “READ & RIOT” w/ Shepard Fairey

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, Feminism, Punk Music, nonfiction, music, activism, politics, LGBTQ by skylightbooks on October 30th, 2018

Feminist artist, political activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova has written a timely guide to radical protest and provides the words, actions, and inspiration to ignite the power of individuals to passionately resist and proactively plan our way to the change we want to see. In Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism, the revered international activist draws upon her own hard-won wisdom to share her core principles for opposing leaders and governments that threaten to suppress individual rights and freedoms. Cutting through the pessimism, fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness, Read & Riot is an empowering tool for civil disobedience that encourages us to question the status quo, reject the litany of injustices and refuse to let apathy take hold, and above all, to make political action exciting, to be approached with a sense of humor, and an ultimately make it an integral part of our daily lives.  Fusing punk and positivity to create a culture of protest that inspires and connects us, Read & Riot includes actions, suggestions, and resources for creating an empowered movement of resistance.

Tolokonnikova is in conversation with fellow artist-activist Shepard Fairey.





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