I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This
"A memoir of mothers and daughters, traced through four generations, from Paris to New York and back again. More than Nadja Spiegelman's famous father, Maus creator Art Spiegelman, and more than most mothers, hers:French-born New Yorker art director Franpoise Mouly:exerted a force over reality that was both dazzling and daunting. As Nadja's body changed and began to whisper to the adults around me in a language I did not understand', their relationship grew tense. Unwittingly, they were replaying a drama from her mother's past. The weight of the difficult stories Franpoise told her daughter shifted the balance between them. Nadja's grandmother's memories then contradicted her mother's at nearly every turn, but beneath them lay a difficult history of her own. Nadja emerged with a deeper understanding of how each generation reshapes the past and how sometimes those who love us best hurt us most. Readers will recognise themselves and their families in this moving, heartbreaking memoir."
'Spiegelman's narrative complicates, blurs, and questions the line between the self and the other-that basic fault-line of all autobiographical writing-as perhaps only a story about mothers can.' Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed 'Spiegelman's sagely poetic "memoir" is maybe best described as the biography of a mother seen through the eyes of a daughter...[Her] intimate portrait of female identity and idolatry is intelligent, forthright and heartbreaking. Her sentences will haunt me forever.' -- Heidi Julavits 'Nadja Spiegelman's I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This works like a series of Russian nesting dolls: in every mother, she finds a woman who was once a daughter. Her prose is luminous and precise; her portraits intricately tender but charged by the wild electricity of familial love. I felt myself moved and expanded as I read this thoughtful, probing book-and I called my own mother the moment I was done.' -- Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams 'Nadja Spiegelman has written a passionate, penetrating, swiftly paced memoir about her mother, her grandmother, and herself. In sharp contrast to many writers working in the genre, who naively assume they are in possession of the definitive, true version of their stories, Spiegelman nimbly interrogates the workings of memory itself-its shifting shape and unreliability, its fictional character. I am proud to play a bit part in this complex love story about three generations of women and what each of them remembers.' -- Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World 'Spiegelman's prose is witty, tender, assured and poetic, and her investigation progresses like memory itself, a realm in which nothing quite hangs together but everything makes sense. The unexpected symmetries between the generations, as well as the inevitable insults and pains, make this artful memoir feel like the story of every family.' -- Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be? 'A fascinating, gracefully written glimpse into the complexities of family life.' Kirkus Reviews 'This stunning memoir of mothers and daughters blew me away with its beauty and honesty. At once unflinching in its exploration of maternal cruelty and unabashed about the wonders of a mother's love, it manages to capture the complexity of that bond like nothing else I've ever read. An extraordinary achievement.' -- J. Courtney Sullivan, author of The Engagements