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Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recoveryby Patricia Francisco
Synopses & Reviews
The light cast by the red lamp near Andre's bed is too low for reading, so I switch on the glowing globe that illuminates a green and pink world. We arrange ourselves on his narrow bed in the corner, settle down to read Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen." Andre slouches beside me, willing to nestle close, to let my arm drape around his body as I read.
"Is this going to be boring?" He eyes the thick book, suspicious of the dreamy cover illustration of a girl riding in a golden coach with a huge black crow.
"Maybe in parts," I defer, willing to force this tale on him for my own purposes. There are some words I want him to take in deeply. "This story is told in seven parts. We'll go slow, just a bit at a time. By the end, we'll know the whole story."
"Will it be scary?"
"Only in the beginning."
He sinks lower.
"You know, it's about a girl and a boy who are best friends--like you and Sofi," I continue in the voice of the supplicant. He has begun to resist the books I endorse with my enthusiasm. The bedtime story hour belongs to him. "The boy gets lost and the girl tries--"
"Does she find him?" He sits up a bit, resting on his elbows.
"That's the mystery part."
"The Snow Queen"
by Hans Christian Andersen
The First Part,
which deals with the mirror and its splinters.
Well, now, let's begin--and when we come to the end of the story we shall know more than we know now! There was once a wicked demon--one of the very worst--the Devil himself! One day he was in a really good humour because he had made a mirror which had the power of making everything good and beautiful reflected in it disappear almost to nothing, while all that was bad and ugly to look at showed up clearly and appeared far worse than it really was. In this mirror the loveliest of landscapes looked just like boiled spinach, and even the nicest people looked hideous or else they stood on their heads and had no bodies.
The story goes on. The Devil's students at the School for Demons try to take the mirror to heaven to fool the angels, but it slips out of their hands and falls to earth, splintering into billions of pieces. Some of the pieces are as small as a grain of sand and fly into people's eyes to make them see only what is bad in the world. And some get caught in people's chests, turning their hearts to ice.
In her powerful memoir, philosopher and rape survivor Karyn Freedman travels back to one night in Paris in 1990, when she was 22 and when, in one violent hour, her life was changed forever. Freedman takes the reader with her on a harrowing yet inspirational journey through trauma and recovery – from a courtroom in Paris and a trauma resource center in Toronto to working with young women at a rape clinic in Africa. At once deeply intimate and bracingly universal, A Paris Night weaves together Freedman’s personal experience with her philosophical insights and her wide-ranging efforts to understand what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized. Drawing on recent theories of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and neuroplasticity, Karyn shows how recovery from traumatic experiences is possible. A Paris Night is written for survivors of sexual violence as well as for anyone who has lived through a traumatic experience, or knows someone who has. It is sure to become an invaluable resource for family members, educators and mental health professionals.
In this powerful memoir, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman travels back to a Paris night in 1990 when she was twenty-two and, in one violent hour, her life was changed forever by a brutal rape. One Hour in Paris takes the reader on a harrowing yet inspirational journey through suffering and recovery both personal and global. We follow Freedman from an apartment in Paris to a French courtroom, then from a trauma center in Toronto to a rape clinic in Africa. At a time when as many as one in three women in the world have been victims of sexual assault and when many women are still ashamed to come forward, Freedmans book is a moving and essential look at how survivors cope and persevere.
At once deeply intimate and terrifyingly universal, One Hour in Paris weaves together Freedmans personal experience with the latest philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological insights on what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized. Using her background as a philosopher, she looks at the history of psychological trauma and draws on recent theories of posttraumatic stress disorder and neuroplasticity to show how recovery from horrific experiences is possible. Through frank discussions of sex and intimacy, she explores the consequences of sexual violence for love and relationships, and she illustrates the steep personal cost of sexual violence and the obstacles faced by individual survivors in its aftermath. Freedmans book is an urgent call to face this fundamental social problem head-on, arguing that we cannot continue to ignore the fact that sexual violence against women is rooted in gender inequalities that exist worldwide—and must be addressed.
One Hour in Paris is essential reading for survivors of sexual violence as well as an invaluable resource for therapists, mental health professionals, and family members and friends of victims.
She invites the reader into her life and into the questions raised by a crime with no obvious solutions or easy answers. We see the dimensions of a human struggle often kept hidden from view. While there are an estimated twelve million rape survivors in the United States, rape is still unspeakable, left out of our personal and cultural conversation. In Telling, Francisco has found a language for the secret grief carried by men and women who have survived rape.
About the Author
Patricia Fransisco teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at Hamline University. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Table of Contents
1. Paris, August 1, 1990
2. What Happened Next
3. Live in It
4. Africa, 2008
5. Paris, Revisited
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