Pre-order a signed copy from WORD Bookstores! (Signed by Michele, Carmen Maria Machado, and Alexander Chee.)
“These are the hardest stories in the world to tell, but they are told with absolute grace. You will devour these beautifully written—and very important— tales of honesty, pain, and resilience.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and City of Girls
“This collection of storytelling constellated around mothers and silence will break your heart and then gently give it back to you stitched together with what we carry in our bodies our whole lives. Mother is a real place where narratives are generated and negated endlessly. This book hums a body—sometimes to home, sometimes to leaving—both saving our lives.”—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan and The Chronology of Water
“Fifteen literary luminaries, including Filgate herself, probe how silence is never even remotely golden until it is mined for the haunting truths that lie within our most primal relationships—with our mothers. Unsettling, brave, sometimes hilarious and sometimes scorching enough to wreck your heart, these essays, about love or the terrifying lack of it, don’t just smash the silence; they let the light in, bearing witness with grace, understanding and writing so gorgeous you’ll be memorizing lines.”—Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“I will confess, right from the start: I called my mom the minute I finished this book and urged her to read it so we might share a language of grief and reconciliation. This is a rare collection that has the power to break silences and bring people together. Each of these fifteen heavyweight writers harmonize to offer a truly profound argument for why words matter, and why unspoken words may matter even more. I am in awe of the talent Filgate has assembled here. When we look back at this century’s literary legacy, many of these names will surely be canon, and this collection will offer a rare glimpse into their early childhoods.”—Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased
“By turns raw, tender, bold, and wise, the essays in this anthology explore writers’ relationships with their mothers. Kudos to Michele Filgate for this riveting contribution to a vital conversation.”—Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl
“Who better to discuss one of our greatest shared surrealities—that we are all, once and forever, for better or worse, someone’s child—than this murderer’s row of writers? The mothers in this collection are terrible, wonderful, flawed, human, tragic, triumphant, complex, simple, baffling, supportive, deranged, heartbreaking, and heartbroken. Sometimes all at once. I’ll be thinking about this book, and stewing over it, and teaching from it, for a long time.”—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
“A fascinating set of reflections on what it is like to be a son or a daughter…The range of stories and styles represented in this collection makes for rich and rewarding reading.”—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly selected What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About as one of the top ten books for Spring 2019 in the Essays/Literary Criticism category!
Fifteen brilliant writers explore how what we don’t talk about with our mothers affects us, for better or for worse.
In the bestselling tradition of The Bitch in the House, What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About is an anthology about the powerful and sometimes painful things that we can’t discuss with the person who is supposed to know us and love us the most.
In the early 2000s, as an undergraduate, Michele Filgate started writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather. It took many years for her to realize what she was actually trying to write about: the fracture this caused in her relationship with her mother. When her essay, “What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About,” was published by Longreads in October of 2017, it went on to become one of the most popular Longreads exclusives of the year, and was shared on social media by Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, Lidia Yuknavitch, and many other writers, some of whom had their own individual codes of silence to be broken.
The outpouring of responses gave Filgate an idea, and the resulting anthology offers an intimate, therapeutic, and universally resonant look at our relationships with our mothers. As Filgate poignantly writes, “Our mothers are our first homes, and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them.”
Bernice L. McFadden
Lynn Steger Strong
Carmen Maria Machado