Book release celebration, new memoirs by Deb Olin Unferth and Joseph Harrington


  • Categories: Literary
  • Event posted: Feb. 24, 2011
  • Last updated: Sept. 16, 2014

Event details

The Raven celebrates the release of new memoirs from two of our favorite authors.

Deb Olin Unferth’s REVOLUTION: THE YEAR I FELL IN LOVE AND WENT TO JOIN THE WAR: “1987 is the year I did nothing. The year I fought in no war, contributed to no cause, didn’t get shot, jailed, or injured . . . The only thing that changed as a result of our presence was us.” Some people go to the Tibetan Himalayas to find themselves; some to Italy’s great temples of art. Not Deb Olin Unferth. A freshman at a large state university, raised a secular Jew, Unferth fell in love with a Christian idealist and followed him to Central America in search of a revolution. Despite their earnest commitment to revolutionary causes— all revolutionary causes—and to each other, the couple find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared as they bop around looking for “revolution jobs.” As the months wear on, cracks begin to form in the foundation of their relationship. They get fired, they get sick, they run out of money and grow disillusioned with the revolution and each other. With an unflinching and unique comic sensibility, Unferth reflects on the youthful search for meaning and on what happens to a country and its people after the revolution is over.

Joseph Harrington’s THINGS COME ON: AN AMNEOIR National and family disasters converge in this radically new kind of memoir Things Come On is a broken and sutured hybrid of forms. Combining poetry, prose narration, primary documents, dramatic dialogue, and pictures, the narrative is woven around the almost exact concurrence of the Watergate scandal and the dates of the poet’s mother’s illness and death from breast cancer. As such, the book weaves together private and public tragedies, showing how powerfully the language of illness and of political cover-up resonate with one another. The resulting “amneoir” (a blend of “memoir” and “amnesia”) explores a time for which the author must rely largely on testimony and documentary evidence—not unlike the Congress and the nation did during the same period. Absences, amnesia, and silences count for at least as much as words. As the double tragedy unfolds, it refuses to become part of an overarching system, metaphor, or meta-narrative, but rather raises questions of memory and evidence, gender and genre, personal and political, and expert vs. lay language. This haunting experimental biography challenges our assumptions about the distance between life and history.


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