University of Nebraska Press

American Lives

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

American Lives

1

Results 1-4 of 4

:
Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

American Lives

A Reader

Edited by Alicia Christensen, Introduction by Tobias Wolff

Memoirs are as varied as human emotion and experience, and those published in the distinguished American Lives Series run the gamut. Excerpted from this series (called “splendid” by Newsweek) and collected here for the first time, these dispatches from American lives take us from China during the Cultural Revolution to the streets of New York in the sixties to a cabin in the backwoods of Idaho. In prose as diverse as the stories they tell, writers such as Floyd Skloot, Ted Kooser, Peggy Shumaker, and Lee Martin, among many others, open windows to their own ordinary and extraordinary experiences. John Skoyles tells how, for his Uncle Fred, a particular “Hard Luck Suit” imparted misfortune. Brenda Serotte describes a Turkish grandmother who made her living reading palms, interpreting cups, and prescribing poultices for the community. In “Son of Mr. Green Jeans,” Dinty W. Moore views fatherhood through the lens of pop culture. Janet Sternburg’s Phantom Limb muses on the dilemmas of a child caring for a parent. Whether evoking moments of death or disease, in family or marriage, history, politics, religion, or culture, these glimpses into singular American lives come together in a richly textured, colorful patchwork quilt of American life.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Fault Line

Laurie Alberts

In 1969 Kim Janik was a young man shining with promise—handsome, brilliant, studying at Harvard on a physics scholarship—and he was in love with Laurie Alberts, a troubled teenager from a wealthy Boston suburb. Twenty-five years later, when Kim’s naked and decomposing body was discovered on the Wyoming prairie, one photograph—that of the Harvard junior and the seventeen-year-old—was found in his abandoned car. This book is Alberts’s attempt to piece together what happened in between. An accomplished novelist, Alberts brings to her task the searching intelligence, clear-eyed candor, and narrative grace that have marked her previous books. She painstakingly recreates her turbulent relationship with Kim and traces the twisted course that led to his eventual ruin.

A story of obsessive love, societal upheaval, and the warring impulses of survival and self-destruction, Fault Line moves beyond the limits of the traditional memoir into the realms of biography and literary journalism. With interviews and letters, Alberts augments her lucid reflections in an effort to comprehend Kim’s life and death and her place in both. The result is a singular work that melds the inner and outer worlds with a seamless intensity.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Gang of One

Memoirs of a Red Guard

Fan Shen

In 1966 twelve-year-old Fan Shen, a newly minted Red Guard, plunged happily into China’s Cultural Revolution. Disillusion soon followed, then turned to disgust and fear when Shen discovered that his compatriots had tortured and murdered a doctor whose house he’d helped raid and whose beautiful daughter he secretly adored. A story of coming of age in the midst of monumental historical upheaval, Shen’s Gang of One is more than a memoir of one young man’s harrowing experience during a time of terror. It is also, in spite of circumstances of remarkable grimness and injustice, an unlikely picaresque tale of adventure full of courage, cunning, wit, tenacity, resourcefulness, and sheer luck—the story of how Shen managed to scheme his way through a hugely oppressive system and emerge triumphant.

Gang of One recounts how Shen escaped, again and again, from his appointed fate, as when he somehow found himself a doctor at sixteen and even, miraculously, saved a few lives. In such volatile times, however, good luck could quickly turn to misfortune: a transfer to the East Wind Aircraft Factory got him out of the countryside and into another terrible trap, where many people were driven to suicide; his secret self-education took him from the factory to college, where friendship with an American teacher earned him the wrath of the secret police. Following a path strewn with perils and pitfalls, twists and surprises worthy of Dickens, Shen’s story is ultimately an exuberant human comedy unlike any other.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Searching for Tamsen Donner

Gabrielle Burton

Tamsen Donner. For most the name conjures the ill-fated Donner party trapped in the snows of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846–47. Others might know Tamsen as the stoic pioneer woman who saw her children to safety but stayed with her dying husband at the cost of her own life. For Gabrielle Burton, Tamsen’s story, fascinating in its own right, had long seemed something more: the story of a woman’s life writ large, one whose impossible balancing of self, motherhood, and marriage spoke to Burton’s own experience.

This book tells of Burton’s search to solve the mystery of Tamsen Donner for herself. A graceful mingling of history and memoir, Searching for Tamsen Donner follows Burton and her husband, with their five daughters, on her journey along Tamsen’s path. From Tamsen’s birthplace in Massachusetts to North Carolina, where she lost her first family in the space of three months; to Illinois, where she married George Donner; and finally to the fateful Oregon Trail, Burton recovers one woman’s compelling history through a modern-day family’s adventure into realms of ultimately timeless experiences. Here Burton has for the first time collected and published together all seventeen of Tamsen’s known letters.

1

Results 1-4 of 4

:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

American Lives

Content Type

  • (4)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access