Negroland: A Memoir - Margo Jefferson

Negroland (Pantheon, $25) is more of an overlooked boundary line than a place; Margo Jefferson introduces it as “my name for a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.” It’s where she grew up, as the daughter of the head of pediatrics at Chicago’s Provident Hospital, and its landmarks were lessons and warnings—don’t show off. Don’t act undignified. Don’t be too white—don’t be too black, but “be the kind of Negroes who can achieve more than most white people.” Even as a four-year-old, Jefferson understood that mistakes “could put you, your parents, and your people at risk.” Later, as a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, Jefferson still walked a fine line: her profession demanded that she uphold high standards, while her race made her vulnerable to judgments as “envious and petty.” Admitting to the despair caused by this constant, self-conscious, balancing act, Jefferson nonetheless banishes grief from her memoir. And in her powerful, passionate narrative, she makes her personal experience part of a larger, ongoing chronicle that starts with the antebellum denizens of—and outcasts from—Negroland, and includes civil rights and several waves of feminism. But more important than this historical sweep, is Jefferson’s account of how she lived it. Here is her meeting with a relative returned from his “ex-Negro” life, and her first befuddlement at racial slippage; her ambivalence about possible models like Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, and Lena Horne. Here are the unexpected—and revealing—questions from white classmates in the progressive school she attended. Jefferson’s chronicle is deeply compelling—as well as profound, troubling, and timely.

Negroland: A Memoir By Margo Jefferson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307473431
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - August 23rd, 2016

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir - Carrie Brownstein

Oh, how we have been waiting for this. Taking the title of her honest and often funny memoir from the song on the Sleater-Kinney album, The Woods, Carrie Brownstein signals that the story of her life is the story of her band. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl (Riverhead, $27.95) starts with Brownstein’s turbulent family life (a closeted gay father, an anorexic mother) and how the Pacific Northwest’s growing independent music scene gave her a focus and an identity. Her intimate account of Sleater-Kinney gives readers an inside look at the group’s formation and struggle to find the perfect drummer, takes us on the road trips, with all their joys and stress, and helps clarify who wrote which songs. Stopping short of her work in Portlandia, Brownstein’s book is the story of a talented and determined female musician, an indomitable riot grrrrl in the male world of punk rock.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir By Carrie Brownstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594486630
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - October 27th, 2015

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir By Carrie Brownstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399184765
Availability: Backordered
Published: Riverhead Books - October 25th, 2016

Me, My Hair, and I - Elizabeth Benedict

Hair is a dominating force in women’s lives. Our days are shaped by it or we are defined by ignoring it. Good hair. Yellow hair. Even talking about hair is political. The contributors of this collection are diverse in background and experience, their hair wild, tame, and everything in-between. These women work and play in our real world, their hair carrying tropes of motherhood and power. I loved the history behind hair explored in this book and by extension the holistic story of us.

Me, My Hair, and I: Twenty-seven Women Untangle an Obsession By Elizabeth Benedict Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616204112
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - September 29th, 2015