A Virtual Conversation With Jenn Shapland and Kate Gorton!
A Room of One's Own is thrilled to present a virtual conversation between Jenn Shapland, author of National Book Award finalist My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, and Kate Gorton!
About My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered—an icon and idol—alongside your own? Jenn Shapland’s celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love.
Shapland is a graduate student when she first uncovers letters written to Carson McCullers by a woman named Annemarie. Though Shapland recognizes herself in the letters, which are intimate and unabashed in their feelings, she does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her. Her curiosity gives way to fixation, not just with this newly discovered side of McCullers’s life, but with how we tell queer love stories. Why, Shapland asks, are the stories of women paved over by others’ narratives? What happens when constant revision is required of queer women trying to navigate and self-actualize in straight spaces? And what might the tracing of McCullers’s life—her history, her secrets, her legacy—reveal to Shapland about herself?
Jenn Shapland is a writer living in New Mexico. She won the 2019 Rabkin Foundation Award for art journalism, her essay “Finders, Keepers” won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and she has a PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin. My Autobiography of Carson McCullers was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in Nonfiction, and was longlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.
Kate Gorton is a book reviewer and fiction writer. Her reviews can be found on Autostraddle and The Rupture Magazine. Her short stories have been published in Prism International Magazine ( and Arcturus Magazine (Chicago Review of Books). She is currently working on a novel, for which she has received grants to attend Vermont Studio Center and the Eckerd College Writers' Conference (Writers in Paradise). She lives in Massachusetts with her wife and their chickens, small dog, and giant cat.