We are so excited to be launching Megan’s Summer Reading Picks this week. The program is designed to give all our SocialMoms a chance to talk about a specific book, get to know the author, and maybe even win some prizes! We’re thrilled to announce that our first pick is Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan. Below you can read our interview with Kelly, learn more about the memoir, and read some reviews from other Social Moms. We’re also hosting a Twitter party with Kelly, where you can ask her questions in person! This even will take place on June 10th at 4:00 PM PST!
First up, we chatted with Kelly about the pros and cons of writing memoirs …
Megan: When did you start writing and were you always interested in memoirs?
Kelly: I didn’t actually stand back and survey the landscape of literary forms and choose memoir. I wrote The Middle Place because I was told my dad was dying and I wanted to put on paper what it had been to be his daughter. I had this very clear vision of handing my dad a document (I even imagined how I would get it bound; this is just at the dawn of self-publishing) and saying thank you, you are the cornerstone of everything, being your kid is the luckiest thing that ever happened to me. I wrote all the stories from growing up, the ones I knew by heart. I found a self-publishing site that I could afford and my friend graphic artist friend, Rocky Laber, figured out how to lay it out and paginate it so it looked like a real book and we sent it off to some printing house in indiana. About 3 weeks later, I got a dozen copies in the mail and about a week after that, I handed a copy to my dad in the kitchen of my childhood home. Then my sister-in-law got a hold of the pages and she gave them to her buddy Jack Horner who had just left a literary agency called ICM and he sent it over to a woman who was kinda new there, Andy Barzvi, and that woman became my agent and sold the book in 3 days.
Megan: Memoir is quite different in that these aren’t fictional characters. Do you draw the line on any topic?
Kelly: I don’t mind talking about myself too much, especially my past self. I have not talked too much about my marriage, or sex or money, so clearly, I have a way to go before I can say I am truly an open book. With my husband, I actually don’t want to jinx what we have. It’s a nice easy relationship for the most part and I fear that if I wrote about it too much, that would mean that I had thought about it and talked about it too much, which could somehow infect the marriage with a consciousness that wouldn’t serve it and that marriage of mine is the center of everything. It’s where the buck stops. It must be tended above all. I can no longer tell stories involving my daughters. They are tweens; they have no sense of humor about themselves any more. That’s probably the number one reason I am moving to fiction for the next book, that and I have a great problem to work out: how far can and should we go to help the people we love?
Megan: What’s been a rewarding part of the success of the books?
Kelly: I impressed my mother. She’s a big reader and generally, not too quick with the compliments. Of the first book, she said: whose gonna want to read about us? We’re not rich, we’re not poor. We’re not crazy or beautiful or connected. We’re just totally average. I said, I don’t know Ma but the publisher thinks it will work out so I guess we leave that to them. Then as soon as The Middle Place came out, she started stopping by the bookstore near her house once or twice a week (seriously that frequently) and moving the books. She didn’t like where they shelved it so she’d take them down and put them near the cash registers or the People Magazine rack or right on top of the big bestsellers at the time, like Suze Orman’s book. I always imagined Mrs. Orman coming through the store after my mom and complaining to management that some no-name had stuck some piece of crap on top of her daughter’s latest blockbuster!
Megan: And has anything been difficult about this process?
Kelly: I don’t want to fan the flame on this but one of my brothers didn’t really get what I was doing at first. He thought with The Middle Place that I was exposing our family in a way that could be damaging or hurtful. But the thing of it was, I don’t think he understood the form. He had probably never read a memoir, or if he had, it was Wayne Gretsky’s or Lee Iaccoca’s, which are more autobiographies. So he was anxious about how the publication would pan out. He feels good now. On this last tour, for Glitter and Glue, he came to every New York reading–three in a row. I was obsessed with his reaction to my talk. I so wanted to impress him. He said he was blown away. For a little sister, that’s pretty much nirvana.
Megan: Is there anything that would surprise your readers about you?
Kelly: That I am occasionally quite lonely and kind of lost, totally unsure of my next move. I am extroverted – meaning I am completely enlivened by the presence of others – the adrenaline transforms me. But then, on Monday mornings, when I can’t bring myself to put on a bra and get out of the house, when I wander around my kitchen cleaning cabinets and drawers and muttering to the dog about what I should be doing – well, that’s not at all how I feel in a social setting and it’s not how I come off on the page. The other thing they might be surprised to know is that I am often totally unmotivated and fail to complete even the simplest assignments I give myself. I’ll I tell myself, Write non-stop for X minutes … no getting up for tea, no checking email, no answering the phone. And sometimes, even when I am only shooting for 20 minutes, I fail. It’s so pathetic. But somehow these books get written. I can’t even really figure out how that happens. I think I black out.
Glitter and Glue Synopsis: From the author of The Middle Place comes a new memoir that examines the bond—sometimes nourishing, sometimes exasperating, occasionally divine—between mothers and daughters.
When Kelly Corrigan was in high school, her mother neatly summarized the family dynamic as “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” This meant nothing to Kelly, who left childhood sure that her mom—with her inviolable commandments and proud stoicism—would be nothing more than background chatter for the rest of Kelly’s life, which she was carefully orienting toward adventure. After college, armed with a backpack, her personal mission statement, and a wad of traveler’s checks, she took off for Australia to see things and do things and Become Interesting.
But it didn’t turn out the way she pictured it. In a matter of months, her savings shot, she had a choice: get a job or go home. That’s how Kelly met John Tanner, a newly widowed father of two looking for a live-in nanny. They chatted for an hour, discussed timing and pay, and a week later, Kelly moved in. And there, in that house in a suburb north of Sydney, 10,000 miles from the house where she was raised, her mother’s voice was suddenly everywhere, nudging and advising, cautioning and directing, escorting her through a terrain as foreign as any she had ever trekked. Every day she spent with the Tanner kids was a day spent reconsidering her relationship with her mother, turning it over in her hands like a shell, straining to hear whatever messages might be trapped in its spiral.
This is a book about the difference between travel and life experience, stepping out and stepping up, fathers and mothers. But mostly it’s about who you admire and why, and how that changes over time.
Reviews by SocialMoms Members:
Glitter and Glue, by Kelly Corrigan was a thought-provoking book that touched me on different levels. As a daughter, and now adult, I could identify with Kelly and her assumptions about her Mom. But, as a Mom of 3, I also identified with her Mother, the “glue” that kept the family together and added an anchor to the “glitter” and glitz of Dad. During the course of reading I cried, I laughed, and I thought about the ever-changing relationship I have with my own Mother. Kelly Corrigan painted a beautiful story that highlighted this crazy job called Motherhood, and the amazingly complex relationship between Mothers and Daughters.
Daughters, moms, grandmothers and even great grandmothers are all going to see a little bit of themselves, their moms and daughters in this wonderful conversational memoir by New York Times Best Seller Author Kerry Corrigan. Though I’m older than the author, I still could relate to the teen angst and the need to break out on my own after high school — just like Kerry — but in the end who do we ultimately return to for advice and support with life’s challenges? Our moms. It’s the perfect book to escape to this summer whether you are a page-turner like me who often reads books cover to cover over a single weekend or you are more of a read a little bit at a time kind of gal.
— Janis Brett Elspas
This honest, sometimes scary, sometimes funny memoir invites us along on one woman’s journey through a struggle every woman endures: the necessary separation between mother and daughter as that daughter attempts to discover who she really is. Corrigan’s portraits are especially poignant for mothers, who not only live this struggle on their own, but relive it again with their own daughters. Corrigan’s story is made especially compelling as she begins the story with her cancer: and her immediate and intense need for contact with her mother. For me, personally, this struck a chord: not only do I have two teens in mid-rebellion phase — one talking about travelling far from home — but I’ve also just been diagnosed with a brain tumour. First person I wanted to talk to? My mom.
I felt like I went on the journey with Kelly. At the beginning of the book, I struggled to like the relationship Kelly had with her mother, but the more I read the book, the more I learned about both woman, the more I loved their relationship. It was a very open and honest look at the changes our relationships take as we get older. I loved it!
Kelly Corrigan is the author of The Middle Place and Lift, both New York Times bestsellers. She is also a contributor to O: The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Medium. Kelly co-founded Notes & Words, an annual benefit concert for Children’s Hospital Oakland featuring writers and musicians onstage together. Her YouTube channel, which includes video essays like “Transcending” and interviews with writers like Michael Lewis and Anna Quindlen, has been viewed by millions. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, Edward Lichty, their two daughters, and a poorly behaved chocolate lab, Hershey. Follow Kelly online on Twitter and Facebook!
Look for the next installment of Megan’s Summer Reading Picks soon!