Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dark Memoir: Darkroom, by Jill Christman

Behind on reviews (and why the heck is this text coming out underlined?) so I'm pulling one out of hopper. I wrote this at the end of winter, when it seemed like the sun would never come out again. Right now it's overcast in Indy, which eases the 90-plus degree temps, and it's funny to remember my blue, winter self looking onto a parking lot from the front window of a Starbucks, writing this.

It has been raining for more days than I can count. Gray. Wet. I must admit I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Sometimes the 1970s motors forward, the past leaving the realm of memory and entering the realm of the present-day. For those of us who have "significant" pasts -- and really, who among is survived childhood unscathed -- there are triggers -- sights, sounds, smells -- that can take us back us back to a time where our emotional palettes were as gloomy as the Indianapolis sky.

Sometimes, well often really, I like to read the stories of others who have lived through horrific times. Why? Mostly, it's knowing I'm not alone. It's feeling a connection to others who understand. And it's fascinating so see what we humans do to one another, even when we treat each other abominably. It's heartening to take notice of what can be endured, and how we make it through.

Jill Christman, the author of Darkroom, is a local author, and I was lucky enough to take a memoir workshop with her last fall. Jill's memoir illustrates the "trash in, trash out" concept -- a shabbily labeled idea of mine, based on personal experience, that when your early life is characterized by basic needs unmet, neglect and abuse, you can pretty much count on fallout showing up in your adult life like an unwelcome house guest. As a child Christman suffered horrifying abuse, and the consequences surfaced in her teens and early adult years. What a beautiful, shocking, stunningly honest account of a life. If you're a lover of dark memoir, wait for a gray day and open Christman's memoir.

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