How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences
by Sue William Silverman
Published March 1, 2020
by University of Nebraska Press
About the book
Many are haunted and obsessed by their own eventual deaths, but perhaps no one as much as Sue William Silverman. This thematically linked collection of essays charts Silverman’s attempt to confront her fears of that ultimate unknown. Her dread was fomented in part by a sexual assault, hidden for years, that led to an awareness that death and sex are in some ways inextricable, an everyday reality many women know too well.
Through gallows humor, vivid realism, and fantastical speculation, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences explores this fear of death and the author’s desire to survive it. From cruising New Jersey’s industry-blighted landscape in a gold Plymouth to visiting the emergency room for maladies both real and imagined to suffering the stifling strictness of an intractable piano teacher, Silverman guards her memories for the same reason she resurrects archaic words—to use as talismans to ward off the inevitable. Ultimately, Silverman knows there is no way to survive death physically. Still, through language, commemoration, and metaphor, she searches for a sliver of transcendent immortality.
“Silverman’s fourth memoir is really about coming to terms with physical death while seeking to create immortal work.” – Evette Dionne, Bitch Media
“Silverman’s new book is a joyously unconventional memoir written at least in part as a hedge against mortality. It will shake loose memories, invite you to ponder, and, maybe best of all, make you laugh. This is a marvelously written, imaginative, and seriously funny book.” – Abigail Thomas, New York Times best-selling author
“With true originality and wit, Silverman takes readers on a wild ride through time, memory, pleasure, and trauma. What remains isa deeply human portrait of one woman’s resilience and the power of her spirit.I couldn’t put it down.” – Christina Haag, New York Times best selling author
“Self-aware, quirky, and fiercely intelligent…Silverman achieves a kind of immortality. Because of the distinctive subject matter and Silverman’s vast writing talents, the book will appeal to new and experienced readers alike. Read any random passage from any random page, and your ears will be delighted by a kaleidoscope of sound.” – Hippocampus Magazine
“The book’s title may suggest this is a morbid book; yet, Silverman in her own clever way leans towards tongue-in-cheek, mixing pop culture, literature, and history with her stories and, of course, her unending quest to survive.” –Brevitymag.com
I always say, reviewing memoirs are tough. I mean, if you didn’t like the book it’s pretty much like saying “hey, your life sucks.” RIGHT? Fortunately with this book I don’t have that problem at all, thank god.
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences isn’t about what you think. Get that straight right now. What it is, is a book about Sue William Silverman’s obsession with death, how she anticipates it at every turn, and how she can find a way to ‘not’ fear death. Using quirky and intimate stories, Silverman tells how she explores her memory as a way of surviving death, how her desire to grasp the past is at one with her desire to hold onto life, and that these memories (her memories) exist because SHE exists. She says “once found, hoard memories, they keep you alive.’
Each story the author tells has a little bit of her life, a little bit of her worry, and a little bit of her drama, be it dangerous or self imposed. She tells them like she is sitting next to you in a bar having a chat, and you find yourself thinking “oh my goodness, I thought I was the only person who thought that way about things,” almost giving you validation as a person that we all obsess over death in one way or another. Her stories are true, as well as quite pragmatic. The book reads like a gathering of friends discussing tales of encounters that has left vivid memories that will never be forgotten, some good, some bad, but all of them coming together into a sweet novel of reflection. An attempt to dwell on the past as a way to become immortal.
Silverman has given us an enlightening way to view ourselves, our life, and our potential death, without us really even realizing we were learning something. An enjoyable and entertaining read, I now find myself wanting to read the rest of Sue William Silverman’s books. I certainly recommend this book and it gets 5 stars from me.
I just would like to thank Sue William Silverman, Suzanne Leopold of Suzy Approved Book Tours and University of Nebraska Press for the copy of this book for my unbiased and honest opinion for review.
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About the Author
Sue William Silverman’s new book is “How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences.” Many are haunted and obsessed by their own eventual deaths, but perhaps no one as much as Sue. This thematically linked collection of essays charts Silverman’s attempt to confront her fears of that ultimate unknown. (University of Nebraska Press, American Lives Series)
Her previous memoir-in-essays is “The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew.” The book describes Sue’s search for authentic self-identity – a search complicated by her conflicted feelings toward Judaism and her various efforts to “pass” as Christian. At the heart of this journey are three separate encounters with 1960s pop-music icon,turned Christian provocateur, Pat Boone, who plays a pivotal role in her desire to belong to the dominant culture. It is published with the University of Nebraska Press as part of their American Lives Series, edited by Tobias Wolff.
An earlier memoir is “Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction” (W. W. Norton), which is also a Lifetime Television original movie. During the filming, Sue visited the set and makes a cameo appearance in the movie!
As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on such television programs as The View, Anderson Cooper-360, and CNN-Headline News. She teaches in the low-residency MFA in Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sue believes we all have a story to tell, that all our voices are important, and encourages others to write their life narratives, too.
Her partner is the poet Marc Sheehan, and they have two cats, Bijou and Siobahn. For more information and photos of Sue, please visit www.SueWilliamSilverman.com
Author Contact/Social Media
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