We’re excited to share that our January Book Club selection is My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland, forthcoming from Tin House Books February 4, but available to Rumpus Book Club members in just a few weeks!
While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters of Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie—letters that are tender, intimate, and unabashed in their feelings. Shapland recognizes herself in the letters’ language—but does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her. Shapland is compelled to undertake a recovery of the full narrative and language of McCullers’s life: she wades through the therapy transcripts; she stays at McCullers’s childhood home, where she lounges in her bathtub and eats delivery pizza; she relives McCullers’s days at her beloved Yaddo. As Shapland reckons with the expanding and collapsing distance between her and McCullers, she sees how McCullers’s story has become a way to articulate something about herself. The results reveal something entirely new not only about this one remarkable, walleyed life, but about the way we tell queer love stories.
In genre-defying vignettes, Jenn Shapland interweaves her own story with Carson McCullers’s to create a vital new portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.
“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, author of The Argonauts
“You don’t have to be a Carson McCullers fan to admire this remarkable book. It’s a biography that’s also a memoir, a story of obsession and longing. Captivating and trenchant and moving, Shapland’s genre-mixing debut will stay with me a long time.” – R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
Subscribe to the Rumpus Book Club by December 15 to join us in reading My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, culminating in an exclusive online discussion with author Jenn Shapland about the book!
And, thrill any and all readers on your holiday shopping list with a Rumpus gift subscription—we have 6-month and 12-month subscriptions to our incredible Book Club, and 6-month and 12-month subscriptions to the equally awesome Poetry Book Club! (And if you’re really out to impress a reader in your life, sign ‘em for both clubs here.) All subscriptions come with a PDF you can print out and slip under the tree, so these make a great last-minute gift, too. Our subscription programs keep the magazine alive, so you and your friends and family can be in touch with your favorite writers and you can support The Rumpus in one fell swoop.