Deborah J. Cohan and Sue William Silverman: A Conversation

Deborah J. Cohan and Sue William Silverman: A Conversation

February 25th 2021 | 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Join us for a virtual conversation with Deborah J. Cohan and Sue William Silverman on February 25th at 6PM! Both authors are accomplished memoirists and have known each other since Ms. Cohan took a class taught by Ms. Silverman. Deborah J. Cohan's memoir, Welcome to Wherever We Are, published February 2020, and Sue William Silverman will be discussing her latest book, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, published March 2020.

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Welcome to Wherever We Are: A Memoir of Family, Caregiving, and Redemption 

By Deborah J. Cohan

Recommended Book in Domestic Violence by DomesticShelters.org

How do you go about caregiving for an ill and elderly parent with a lifelong history of abuse and control, intertwined with expressions of intense love and adoration? How do you reconcile the resulting ambivalence, fear, and anger?

Welcome to Wherever We Are is a meditation on what we hold onto, what we let go of, how we remember others and ultimately how we’re remembered. Deborah Cohan shares her story of caring for her father, a man who was simultaneously loud, gentle, loving and cruel and whose brilliant career as an advertising executive included creating slogans like “Hey, how ‘bout a nice Hawaiian punch?” Wrestling with emotional extremes that characterize abusive relationships, Cohan shows how she navigated life with a man who was at once generous and affectionate, creating magical coat pockets filled with chocolate kisses when she was a little girl, yet who was also prone to searing, vicious remarks like “You’d make my life easier if you’d commit suicide.”

In this gripping memoir, Cohan tells her unique personal story while also weaving in her expertise as a sociologist and domestic abuse counselor to address broader questions related to marriage, violence, divorce, only children, intimacy and loss. A story most of us can relate to as we reckon with past and future choices against the backdrop of complicated family dynamics, Welcome to Wherever We Are is about how we might come to live our own lives better amidst unpredictable changes through grief and healing.

Questions for Discussion accessible here

Deborah J. Cohan is an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. Alongside her many academic publications, she is the author of the popular blog “Social Lights” for Psychology Today.


How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

by Sue William Silverman

One of 9 Essay Collections Feminists Should Read in 2020 ~~ BITCH MEDIA

Many are haunted and obsessed by their own eventual deaths, but perhaps no one as much as Sue William Silverman. This thematically linked collection of essays charts Silverman’s attempt to confront her fears of that ultimate unknown. Her dread was fomented in part by a sexual assault, hidden for years, that led to an awareness that death and sex are in some ways inextricable, an everyday reality many women know too well.

Through gallows humor, vivid realism, and fantastical speculation, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences explores this fear of death and the author’s desire to survive it. From cruising New Jersey’s industry-blighted landscape in a gold Plymouth to visiting the emergency room for maladies both real and imagined to suffering the stifling strictness of an intractable piano teacher, Silverman guards her memories for the same reason she resurrects archaic words—to use as talismans to ward off the inevitable. Ultimately, Silverman knows there is no way to survive death physically. Still, through language, commemoration, and metaphor, she searches for a sliver of transcendent immortality.

"Silverman's fourth memoir is really about coming to terms with physical death while seeking to create immortal work." Evette Dionne, Bitch Media

Sue William Silverman is a memoirist, poet, and teacher of writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has published several books, including Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You; Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual AddictionThe Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew (Nebraska, 2014); and Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir.

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