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The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew

(University of Nebraska Press)

Dear Gentile Reader. And you, Jews, come too. Follow Sue William Silverman, a one-woman cultural mash-up, on her exploration of identity among the mishmash of American idols and ideals that confuse most of us, or should. Pat Boone is our first stop. Now a Tea Party activist, Boone once shone as a squeaky-clean pop music icon of normality, an antidote for Silverman’s own confusing and dangerous home, where being a Jew in a Christian school wasn’t easy, and being the daughter of the Anti-Boone was unspeakable. And yet somehow Silverman found her way, a “gefilte fish swimming upstream,” and found her voice, which in this searching, bracing, hilarious, and moving book tries to make sense of that most troubling American condition: belonging, but to what?

Picking apricots on a kibbutz, tramping cross-country in a loathed Volkswagen camper, appearing in a made-for-television version of her own life: Silverman is a bobby soxer, a baby boomer, a hippy, a lefty, a rebel with something to say to those of us, most of us, still wondering what to make of ourselves.

Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction

(W. W. Norton)

"In this powerful, often lyric memoir, a woman learns to value herself--as a whole person rather than as a sexual object. Recounting her past experiences as part of her journey toward recovery, Sue William Silverman explores her skewed belief that sex is love, a belief that began with her father's sexual abuse from early childhood into adolescence.

"She tells of college years in Boston, an early marriage in Galveston, and a roller-coaster life of sex and self-destructive behavior. Finally, having become addicted to danger itself, she hits bottom emotionally and spiritually. At this point, with the help of a trusted therapist, Silverman begins to discover the difference between the high of dangerous encounters and the more reliable promise of love.

"This utterly candid account may be the first book by a woman to examine sexual addiction. But the misguided search that became Silverman's life has resonance for other addictions, whether to food, drugs, alcohol, or work--anyone whose only satisfaction is now."

(Please click Love Sick title, above, to read an excerpt of the memoir and additional reviews.)

Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You

(University of Georgia Press)

"From age four to eighteen, Sue William Silverman was sexually abused with numbing regularity by her father, a high-ranking government official and successful banker. Rendered in often graphic detail, her story annihilates our complacency about who among us could commit such evil--and who could stop it, for this is also a story of complicity, of the blaming silence with which Silverman's mother meets her daughter's clear signals of distress. Exploring the inner contours of a family in crisis, Silverman shows how their situation persisted for so long--unreported, undetected, and unconfessed--and how the ordeal colored and controlled her life well into adulthood. From an anguished child who could find neither a strong enough voice nor the right words to an award-winning writer, 'Terror, Father' tells Silverman's unforgettable story of loss and recovery."

(Please click book title, above, to read excerpt.)

Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir

(University of Georgia Press)

"Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir" is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

The rise of interest in memoir recognizes the power of the genre to move and affect not just individual readers, but society at large. Sue Silverman covers traditional writing topics such as metaphor, theme, plot, and voice, but also includes chapters on trusting memory and cultivating the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces--from family members to the media--who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts and views remain silent.

Silverman draws upon her own personal and professional experience to provide an essential resource for transforming life into words that matter. Fearless Confessions is an atlas that contains maps to the remarkable places in each person's life that have yet to be explored.

(Please click on title, above, to see the Table of Contents.)

If the Girl Never Learns

Brick Mantel Books, 80-page poetry collection.


You are The Girl, and The Girl is a Badass.
From the opening lines, it's clear The Girl at the center of these poems is damaged—which is another way to say she's a survivor. If the Girl Never Learns moves from the personal to the mythic to the apocalyptic, because The Girl would do anything, even go to hell, to save her soul. So, she resists, takes action to overturn society's suffocating ideal of Good Girldom. The poems' sense of breathlessness reflects The Girl's absolute need to control her own destiny, to outrun her past, while at the same time chasing a future she alone has envisioned and embodied. Because The Girl is, above all else, a badass.

Hieroglyphics in Neon

Orchises Press (71 pages)

"Sue Silverman is widely known for the...often heartbreaking prose that limns personal experience. As she turns here to lyric, her words are still deft as deft knows how to be; the poignance remains; but what a range of things and people and events and humor pervades these mouth-filling pages.... She makes much of her sensory apparatus, as, given its acuteness, she is right to do; but there is also a fierce intelligence at work in Hieroglyphics in Neon, something rather akin to what the Augustans called Wit. Right brain, left brain, the whole human body: all conspire to make this book both a romp and a protracted meditation. Brava! ~~ Sydney Lea

Please click on title above to read selected poems. Thank you! (Please note: This poetry collection includes the poetry sequence "Hieronymus Bosch's Illustrated Alphabet.")

This short article, first published in "The Writer's Chronicle," is included in the Appendix of Sue's book, "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir." Read this article here, now!