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More copies of this ISBN

Excavation: A Memoir

by

Excavation: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9781892061706
ISBN10: 1892061708
All Product Details

 

Awards


Staff Pick

In this searingly honest memoir of growing up during the '80s and '90s in Southern California, Ortiz brilliantly narrates her five-year relationship with a teacher 15 years her senior. This is a work of startling incandescence and raw beauty.
Recommended by Mary Jo, Powells.com

Involved in a secret five-year relationship with her middle-school teacher, Ortiz focuses on the emotional toll experienced at the hands of "Mr. Ivers." It is pretty satisfying to watch as Ortiz slowly becomes aware of the inequalities of this relationship, yet at the same time, it's entirely heartbreaking to watch this child (because, let's be honest, that is exactly what she is) take step after step toward the abyss — completely unaware of the skittering gravel beneath her feet.

While the reader may still want the closure of the after-story of Ivers's discovery and prosecution, this is not that story. Here we discover why, at 13, Ortiz walks open-eyed into a sexual relationship with a man more than twice her age. But can a 13-year-old girl, romanced by her teacher, go open-eyed into any relationship? Of course not, but she doesn't know that; she believes she is making a decision about her life. We discover why she doesn't tell, why she keeps the secret, and why she continues the relationship for five years. Isn't that what we always want to know in these situations — the "why?"

Excavation is... just that: a peeling back of layers to uncover what hides underneath. Wendy Ortiz absolutely flays herself wide open, and this excavation is one that will equally repel and compel you. Beautifully done, Excavation is one of my favorite reads this year.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Wendy C. Ortiz was an only child and a bookish, insecure girl living with alcoholic parents in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her relationship with a charming and deeply flawed private school teacher fifteen years her senior appeared to give her the kind of power teenagers wish for, regardless of consequences. Her teacher — now a registered sex offender — continually encouraged her passion for writing while making her promise she was not leaving any written record about their dangerous sexual relationship. This conflicted relationship with her teacher may have been just five years long, but would imprint itself on her and her later relationships, queer and straight, for the rest of her life.

In Excavation: A Memoir, the black and white of the standard victim/perpetrator stereotype gives way to unsettling grays. The present-day narrator reflects on the girl she once was, as well as the teacher and parent she has become. It's a beautifully written and powerful story of a woman reclaiming her whole heart.

Review:

"Excavation: A Memoir is in turns shocking and universal, written in tones both measured and raw. Ortiz is a master at summing things up with a lovely turn of phrase." LitReactor

Review:

"Even when channeling her teenage naïïveté, in which she continually misreads Mr. Ivers's motives, Ortiz's story of lost innocence is unmuddied by drippy sentimentality or self-pity. Her sentences are muscular, without the fatty tissue of over-explanation or justification. She never undercuts the power of her prose with an adult sensibility of right and wrong. Instead, because she lays out the bare facts without judgment, the reader sees Mr. Ivers for what he really is: a coward. Ultimately, more than anything else, Excavation is the story of writing as salvation." Los Angeles Review of Books

Review:

"[I]n reading Excavation, particularly the deeper the reader digs into the book, one is lost in the unsettling gray. An overcast hovers above the beautiful prose, separating the black and white poles of law, of textbook crime, and this is where Ortiz does her best work. The gray is where Ortiz beguiles the reader by writing with distance, with so much spatial breath, that her 'I' becomes the name of an observant narrator looking down through the parted overcast." Fourculture.com

About the Author

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir (July 2014, Future Tense Books) and Hollywood Notebook (Fall 2014, Writ Large Press). Wendy writes the column "On the Trail of Mary Jane" for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Nervous Breakdown, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Rumpus, Specter Magazine, and many other journals. She is co-founder, curator and host of the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series in Los Angeles. Visit Wendy at wendycortiz.tumblr.com or at her website.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

rgouirand, December 28, 2014 (view all comments by rgouirand)
"It is any given day."

This book is a wondrous thing, start to finish. The fact that it exists makes the world a little more bearable, in a really important way.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Janet A Selby, November 8, 2014 (view all comments by Janet A Selby)
Excavation is a beautiful and heartbreaking memoir about an illicit affair with a teacher. Ortiz's writing deftly explores the power dynamic between a student and teacher, and the difficulties of navigating romantic relationships as a teenager. The best thing about this book is Ortiz's honesty. She unflinchingly writes about her own difficult experiences, and we are the ones who get to learn from them. A phenomenal memoir.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
bdank22, August 7, 2014 (view all comments by bdank22)
The author excavates her seduction as a 13 year old girl by her eighth grade teacher, Mr. Ivers. The "relationship" lasted for some five years, and was not discovered by persons who could do something about stopping it. Such was the case since Mr. Ivers had her take a vow of silence which Wendy never violated. Silent she was, but she wrote it all down. And now the world can read all about it, and it is an engaging and chilling read. And here is the rub, her vow of silence remains and her offender's true identity remains protected (Ivers is a pseudonym). The writer never addresses this issue. Could such represent the continuing power of the offender over Wendy? Wendy cannot break her childhood vow, the only function of which was to protect her offender.


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(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781892061706
Author:
Ortiz, Wendy C.
Publisher:
Future Tense Books
Author:
Ortiz, Wendy C.
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20140731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
244

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Featured Titles » Biography
Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Staff Favorites
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Small Press » Featured Titles
Fiction and Poetry » Small Press » Fiction and Prose
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Excavation: A Memoir New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.00 In Stock
Product details 244 pages Future Tense Books - English 9781892061706 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In this searingly honest memoir of growing up during the '80s and '90s in Southern California, Ortiz brilliantly narrates her five-year relationship with a teacher 15 years her senior. This is a work of startling incandescence and raw beauty.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Involved in a secret five-year relationship with her middle-school teacher, Ortiz focuses on the emotional toll experienced at the hands of "Mr. Ivers." It is pretty satisfying to watch as Ortiz slowly becomes aware of the inequalities of this relationship, yet at the same time, it's entirely heartbreaking to watch this child (because, let's be honest, that is exactly what she is) take step after step toward the abyss — completely unaware of the skittering gravel beneath her feet.

While the reader may still want the closure of the after-story of Ivers's discovery and prosecution, this is not that story. Here we discover why, at 13, Ortiz walks open-eyed into a sexual relationship with a man more than twice her age. But can a 13-year-old girl, romanced by her teacher, go open-eyed into any relationship? Of course not, but she doesn't know that; she believes she is making a decision about her life. We discover why she doesn't tell, why she keeps the secret, and why she continues the relationship for five years. Isn't that what we always want to know in these situations — the "why?"

Excavation is... just that: a peeling back of layers to uncover what hides underneath. Wendy Ortiz absolutely flays herself wide open, and this excavation is one that will equally repel and compel you. Beautifully done, Excavation is one of my favorite reads this year.

"Review" by , "Excavation: A Memoir is in turns shocking and universal, written in tones both measured and raw. Ortiz is a master at summing things up with a lovely turn of phrase."
"Review" by , "Even when channeling her teenage naïïveté, in which she continually misreads Mr. Ivers's motives, Ortiz's story of lost innocence is unmuddied by drippy sentimentality or self-pity. Her sentences are muscular, without the fatty tissue of over-explanation or justification. She never undercuts the power of her prose with an adult sensibility of right and wrong. Instead, because she lays out the bare facts without judgment, the reader sees Mr. Ivers for what he really is: a coward. Ultimately, more than anything else, Excavation is the story of writing as salvation."
"Review" by , "[I]n reading Excavation, particularly the deeper the reader digs into the book, one is lost in the unsettling gray. An overcast hovers above the beautiful prose, separating the black and white poles of law, of textbook crime, and this is where Ortiz does her best work. The gray is where Ortiz beguiles the reader by writing with distance, with so much spatial breath, that her 'I' becomes the name of an observant narrator looking down through the parted overcast."
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