My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

A Review

cover of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
On Sale 2/4/2020

This is the first time I’ve encountered Jenn Shapland‘s writing and I can certainly see why she has been granted numerous prestigious residencies and won several significant awards. She does write beautifully.

Shapland’s first book, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, however, is probably not the best showcase of her talent. In most cases, I enjoy books that cross genre lines, but this mashup of queer history, literary criticism, and memoir is just not smooth.

I would love to read a Shapland-penned straight up (pardon the pun) biography of McCullers, a queer-focused exploration of her work, or Shapland’s memoir about coming out to herself and others. The mixture of the three is clunky. Part of the problem is one of voice. I kept getting jolted from discussions of ontology to paragraphs containing the term “BFF” and generous sprinklings of the f-word.

All that said, I had no problem finishing the book. I was fascinated by all three of the perspectives, and will now go in search of more about McCullers. I’ll also move the novels she wrote to the top of my TBR list and keep an eye out for Jenn Shapland’s name on future work.

I suspect that the advanced reader’s copy I received was a very early edition and that there will be some tightening done in the galleys. For now, I’m giving this 3 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley for this advanced readers copy.

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