Whether pulled from the folds of memory, channeled through the icons of Greek mythology and Roman Catholicism, or filtered through the lens of pop culture, Sonja Livingston’s Queen of the Fall: A Memoir of Girls & Goddesses considers the lives of women. Exploring the legacies of those she has crossed paths with in life and in the larger culture, Livingston weaves together strands of memory with richly imagined vignettes to explore becoming a woman in late 1980s and early 1990s America.
Along the way, the award-winning memoirist brings us face-to-face with herself as an inner-city girl—trying to imagine a horizon beyond poverty, fearful of her fertility and the limiting arc of teenage pregnancy. Livingston looks at the lives of those she’s known: friends who’ve gotten themselves into “trouble,” girls who tell their school counselor small lies out of necessity and pain and a mother whose fruitfulness seems, at times, biblical. Livingston interacts with icons such as Susan B. Anthony, the Virgin Mary, and Ally McBeal to mine the terrain of her own femininity, fertility, and longing.
Queen of the Fall is a dazzling meditation on loss, possibility, and, ultimately, what it means to be human.
Praise for Queen of the Fall
“Much more than a touching portrayal of an American, Roman Catholic girlhood of the 1980s. . . . This is a book that sheds light.”
—Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota and The Cloister Walk
“Deft, evocative, mysterious, heartfelt, swirling, lyrical, with lines that pop off the page and essays that shimmer in your head for days after you finish reading them—or thought you did.”
—Brian Doyle, author of Mink River
“Livingston writes with a fierce strength and intelligence that not only makes for compelling reading but an absolutely unforgettable voice.”
—Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden
“Queen of the Fall harvests the rich fruits of memory to explore the virtues and vulnerabilities of childhood, of the feminine body, and of lives filled with longing and aspiration. In this simply beautiful collection, Sonja Livingston serves up gorgeous prose and unswerving honesty to map the awakening of an essayist’s heart.”
—Dinty Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire