Harvard Book Store Presents Leslie Jamison
Run Time: 90 min.
Harvard Book Store Presents:
Another Kind of Love Story
In conversation with CLAIRE MESSUD
Harvard Book Store welcomes LESLIE JAMISON—author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams—for a discussion of her new memoir Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story. She will be joined in conversation by CLAIRE MESSUD—creative writing professor at Harvard University and author of author of six works of fiction.
Leslie Jamison has become one of our most beloved contemporary voices, a scribe of the real, the true, the complex. She has been compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, acclaimed for her powerful thinking, deep feeling, and electric prose. But while Jamison has never shied away from challenging material—scouring her own psyche and digging into our most unanswerable questions across four books—Splinters enters a new realm.
In her first memoir, Jamison turns her unrivaled powers of perception on some of the most intimate relationships of her life: her consuming love for her young daughter, a ruptured marriage once swollen with hope, and the shaping legacy of her own parents’ complicated bond. In examining what it means for a woman to be many things at once—a mother, an artist, a teacher, a lover—Jamison places the magical and the mundane side by side in surprising ways: pumping breastmilk in a shared university office, driving the open highway in the throes of new love, growing a tender second skin of consciousness as she watches her daughter come alive to the world. The result is a work of nonfiction like no other, an almost impossibly deep reckoning with the muchness of life and art, and a book that grieves the departure of one love even as it celebrates the arrival of another.
How do we move forward into joy when we are haunted by loss? How do we claim hope alongside the harm we’ve caused? A memoir for which the very term tour de force seems to have been coined, Splinters plumbs these and other pressing questions with writing that is revelatory to the last page. Jamison has delivered a book with the linguistic daring and emotional acuity that made The Empathy Exams and The Recovering instant classics, even as she reaches new depths of understanding, piercing the reader to the core. A master of nonfiction, she evinces once again her ability to “stitch together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon” (NPR).
Praise for Splinters
“Leslie Jamison’s blazing memoir kept me riveted for the single day it took to guzzle it down. This wry, hilarious, and utterly unputdownable book is a gift that feels like an immediate hit and a forever classic.”—Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of Lit and The Liar’s Club
“Splinters is as sharp and piercing as its title—a brilliant reckoning with what it means to make art, a self, a family, a life. If I were offered one guide as a writer, as a mother, as a teacher, as a human being constantly reinventing herself out of necessity, I’d want that guide to be Leslie Jamison. This memoir is a masterclass.” —Maggie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful
“In Splinters, Jamison offers a riveting portrait of rupture that is at once a page-turner about divorce, a romance about parenthood, a mystery of self after splintering, and a promise that however many times we break or are broken, art and love will never fail to mend us.” —Melissa Febos, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award winner and national bestseller Girlhood
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Claire Messud’s novels include The Emperor’s Children, a New York Times Book of the Year in 2006; The Woman Upstairs (2013); and The Burning Girl(2017), a finalist for the LA Times Book Award in Fiction. Her most recent novel is A Dream Life (2021). She is also the author of a book of novellas, The Hunters (2001). Her memoir-in-essays, Kant’s Little Prussian Head & Other Reasons Why I Write (2020) came out in paperback in February. She was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2020. Messud teaches creative writing at Harvard University and writes a monthly books column for Harper’s Magazine. She lives in Cambridge, MA with her family.
Leslie Jamison is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams; the collection of essays Make It Scream, Make It Burn, a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award; and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She writes for numerous publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Harper’s, and the New York Review of Books. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn.
Photo Credit: Grace Ann Leadbeater