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Riding Fury Home: A Memoirby Chana Wilson
Synopses & Reviews
In 1958, when Chana Wilson was seven, her mother held a rifle to her head and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed and she was taken away to a mental hospital. On her return, Chana became the caretaker of her heavily medicated, suicidal mother. It would be many years before she learned the secret of her mothers anguish: her love affair with another married woman, and the psychiatric treatment aimed at curing her of her lesbianism.
Riding Fury Home spans forty years of the intense, complex relationship between Chana and her mother—the trauma of their early years together, the transformation and joy they found when they both came out in the 1970s, and the deep bond that grew between them. From the intolerance of the '50s to the exhilaration of the womens movement of the '70s and beyond, the book traces the profound ways in which their two lives were impacted by the social landscape of their time. Exquisitely written and devastatingly honest, Riding Fury Home is a shattering account of one familys struggle against homophobia and mental illness — and a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and redemption.
"From the horrors of her childhood in 1950s New Jersey to the liberating discovering of her sexual identity decades later, psychotherapist Wilson's memoir is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting. During Wilson's childhood, her mother — after attempting suicide (the gun jammed) — was shuttled in and out of mental institutions, subjected to electroshock treatments, and addicted to various pills that severely impaired her ability to parent. When Wilson's father leaves the family for England, young Wilson is forced to watch over her mother, making sure she does not overdose or attempt to kill herself again. From a young age, Wilson repeats a mantra: 'I am so strong. I can get through anything;' her resilience pays off and, as an adult, Wilson's therapist comments on her 'limitless ability for suffering.' Exhausted by having to care for her mother, Wilson eventually flees home for college in Iowa. Now with the freedom to explore her own identity — through anti-Vietnam protests and 1960s counterculture — Wilson embarks on a journey that ultimately brings her closer to her mother. After coming out as a lesbian, Wilson learns her mother is also gay, and that her depression was fueled by her love affair with a woman that was 'forbidden and punished' by the repressive society of the 1950s. Through sharing her personal tale of forgiveness and unconditional love, Wilson breaks the silence on the trauma of oppression and the ecstasy of self-acceptance. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Chana Wilson has done a wonderful thing — putting on the page so much grief, fear, and stubborn awe-inspiring endurance. We rarely look closely at complicated relationships like the one she had with her mother, and even more rarely look at how they change over time. This is not heroes and villains, but a layered, intimate exchange in which it seems the child is never quite allowed to be a child — and yet still manages to hang onto a carefully constructed loving closeness." Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
"Chana Wilson's astonishing story is a hybrid of nightmare and fairy tale in which every child's worst fears and fondest hopes about their mother come true." Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
About the Author
Chana Wilson is a psychotherapist and a former radio producer and television engineer. She began her career in broadcast journalism as a radio programmer with KPFA in Berkeley, California. Her work hosting the KPFA program A World Wind — in which she interviewed poets, musicians, writers and activists — sparked her desire to work with people on a deeper level. Now a psychotherapist for twenty-four years, she credits the extraordinary courage of her clients for inspiring her to write. Wilson's writing has appeared in the print journals The Sun and Sinister Wisdom, the online journals Roadwork and Aunt Lute, and in several anthologies.
Since the mid-eighties, Wilson has been playing percussion with the womens samba band Sistah Boom.
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