Skip to Main Content

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About

Fifteen Writers Break the Silence

Edited by Michele Filgate


    In the early 2000's, as an undergraduate, Michele Filgate started writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather. It took many years for her to realize what she was actually trying to write about: the fracture this caused in her relationship with her mother. When her essay, “What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About,” was published by Longreads in October of 2017, it went on to become one of the most popular Longreads exclusives of the year and was shared on social media by Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, Lidia Yuknavitch, and other writers, some of whom had their own individual codes of silence to be broken.
    The outpouring of responses gave Filgate an idea and the resulting anthology offers an intimate, therapeutic and universally resonant look at our relationships with our mothers. As Filgate poignantly writes, “Our mothers are our first homes and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them.”

Contributions by Cathi Hanauer, Melissa Febos, Alexander Chee, Dylan Landis, Bernice L. McFadden, Julianna Baggott, Lynn Steger Strong, Kiese Laymon, Carmen Maria Machado, André Aciman, Sari Botton, Nayomi Munaweera, Brandon Taylor, and Leslie Jamison.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 3, 2020)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982107352

“These essays, each one exceptional on its own, encompass both love and writing at their most vulnerable, and could power entire cities with their electricity.”--Booklist, starred review
 

"Fifteen essayists—many luminaries—write unflinchingly about their mothers...Each one of these intimate and gut-wrenching essays reaches beyond itself to forge connections with readers."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"The essays all address the authors' relationships with their mothers in stories to be savored but not necessarily read in one sitting. …beautifully composed."--Library Journal, starred review

"A fascinating set of reflections on what it is like to be a son or daughter… the range of stories and styles represented in this collection makes for rich and rewarding reading."--Publishers Weekly
 

"These are the hardest stories in the world to tell, but they are told with absolute grace. You will devour these beautifully written—and very important— tales of honesty, pain, and resilience.”--Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love

"By turns raw, tender, bold and wise, the essays in this anthology explore writers’ relationships with their mothers. Kudos to Michele Filgate for this riveting contribution to a vital conversation.”--Claire Messud, bestselling author of The Burning Girl

"Fifteen literary luminaries, including Filgate herself, probe how silence is never even remotely golden until it is mined for the haunting truths that lie within our most primal relationships-with our mothers. Unsettling, brave, sometimes hilarious and sometimes scorching enough to wreck your heart, these essays, about love or the terrifying lack of it, don’t just smash the silence; they let the light in, bearing witness with grace, understanding and writing so gorgeous you’ll be memorizing lines."--Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“This collection of storytelling constellated around mothers and silence will break your heart and then gently give it back to you stitched together with what we carry in our bodies our whole lives.”--Lidia Yuknavitch, national bestselling author of The Misfit's Manifesto

"This is a rare collection that has the power to break silences. I am in awe of the talent Filgate has assembled here; each of these fifteen heavyweight writers offer a truly profound argument for why words matter, and why unspoken words may matter even more."--Garrard Conley, New York Times bestselling author of Boy Erased

"Who better to discuss one of our greatest shared surrialities -- that we are all, once and forever, for better or worse, someone's child -- than this murderer's row of writers? The mothers in this collection are terrible, wonderful, flawed, human, tragic, triumphant, complex, simple, baffling, supportive, deranged, heartbreaking and heartbroken. Sometimes all at once. I'll be thinking about this book, and stewing over it, and teaching from it, for a long time."--Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers