*Most Anticipated Reads of 2019 by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Lit Hub, The Week, and Elle.com*
Fifteen brilliant writers explore what we don’t talk to our mothers about, and how it affects us, for better or for worse.
As an undergraduate, Michele Filgate started writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather. It took her more than a decade to realize what she was actually trying to write: how this affected her relationship with her mother. When it was finally published, the essay went viral, shared on social media by Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, and many others. The outpouring of responses gave Filgate an idea, and the resulting anthology offers a candid look at our relationships with our mothers.
While some of the writers in this book are estranged from their mothers, others are extremely close. Leslie Jamison writes about trying to discover who her seemingly perfect mother was before ever becoming a mom. In Cathi Hanauer’s hilarious piece, she finally gets a chance to have a conversation with her mother that isn’t interrupted by her domineering (but lovable) father. André Aciman writes about what it was like to have a deaf mother. Melissa Febos uses mythology as a lens to look at her close-knit relationship with her psychotherapist mother. And Julianna Baggott talks about having a mom who tells her everything.
As Filgate writes, “Our mothers are our first homes, and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them.” There’s relief in breaking the silence. Acknowledging what we couldn’t say for so long is one way to heal our relationships with others and, perhaps most important, with ourselves.
Contributors include Cathi Hanauer, Melissa Febos, Alexander Chee, Dylan Landis, Bernice L. McFadden, Julianna Baggott, Lynn Steger Strong, Kiese Laymon, Carmen Maria Machado, André Aciman, Sari Botton, Nayomi Munaweera, Brandon Taylor, and Leslie Jamison.
Michele Filgate’s work has appeared in Longreads; The Washington Post; the Los Angeles Times; The Boston Globe; The Paris Review Daily; Tin House; Gulf Coast; O, The Oprah Magazine; BuzzFeed; Refinery29; and many other publications. Currently, she is an MFA student at NYU, where she is the recipient of the Stein Fellowship. She’s a contributing editor at Literary Hub and teaches at the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop and Catapult. What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About is her first book.
"In this audiobook unflinching essayists peel back layers of long-held pain in their lives. Writer/editor Michele Filgate narrates the introduction in a tone of earnestness that pulls the listener in as she reflects on her life-changing essay about being abused by her stepfather, along with the universal expectations of motherhood. Fajer Al-Kaisi, Roger Casey, Janina Edwards, Emily Ellet, Cynthia Farrell, Soneela Nankani, and David Sadzin are the talented narrators who bring us the rest of the essays, which take a searing look at mothers of all types in a range of styles suited to each essay. The more deft performances in this collection also illuminate the subtle role of fathers in filtering or overshadowing a child's experience of their mother. Listeners will laugh, wince, and maybe cry."