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The Crack Magazine

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My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

Jenn Shapland’s debut book – which tells the story of mid 20th century writer Carson McCullers – subverts genre conventions, blurring the lines between autobiography and memoir. Shapland beautifully entwines Carson’s story with her own, reflecting on their shared experiences of shame, acceptance and queer love. The book reflects on the way queer women are so often misrepresented in history, and Shapland criticises how Carson’s story has previously been mistold, brushing off lesbian relationships as close friends. Shapland accepts that her own account of Carson’s life may be biased, recognising that she idolises her and feels protective of her story, yet she does not try to hide Carson’s relationships. She laments the way society requires explicit proof that a woman was a lesbian, in a time where queer relationships had to be hidden, and so often ignores historical lesbianism. This clever blending of a historical account with Shapland’s own experiences makes for a captivating read. SW

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