10/10 – 4pm – Mary Cappello author of Called Back


Author of Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life ($15.95 Alyson)

called back

In her intensely personal and insightful memoir, Mary Cappello wonders aloud for us what breast cancer awareness really makes us aware of, and responds as if for the first time to the deceivingly simple command: “tell me what you’re feeling.” Unable to eat on chemotherapy, Cappello feasts on the paintings of Marsden Hartley, yearns in the tradition of Dickinson and Stein, keeps company with Proust, and lets queer artists tease her back to life. Called Back looks through the lens of cancer to discover—often with humor—new truths about intimacy and essential solitude, eroticism, the fact of the body, and the impossibility of turning away. Mary Cappello is the author of two previous books of literary nonfiction, Night Bloom, and Awkward: A Detour, a Los Angeles Times Bestseller. Her essays and experimental prose appear in such places as The Georgia Review, Salmagundi, Southwest Review, American Letters and Commentary, and have been awarded The Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from Teachers and Writers Collaborative, the Lange-Taylor Prize from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Notable Essay of the Year Citations in The Best American Essays. A former Fulbright Lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow, Russia, Cappello is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island.

“Mary Cappello’s Called Back shimmers on the page. Ezra Pound said a writer has to ‘make it new’ and Cappello has done that rare feat. Cancer books have become a genre that nobody wants to read, except this book. Read this book. Called Back is exquisite.” – Patty Dann author of Mermaids, and of The Goldfish Went on Vacation: A Memoir of Loss (and Learning to Tell the Truth About It)

“I began Mary Cappello’s book with some fear. As a survivor of breast cancer I was not eager to relive the experiences. To my surprise, I was instantly captivated by Cappello’s merciful honesty, her courageous and profound descriptions, and her humor – yes, passages so funny I had to put the book down to laugh at the absurdities enmeshed in some of the medical treatments and relationships, a laughter that might end in tears of remembered sorrow, both relieving and deeply healing, and then become laughter again. As a writer, I was inspired and enthralled by the beauty of her language. I did not think anyone could turn the experience of breast cancer into poetry, being accustomed to banalities and outright lies, and here was proof that I was wrong. Mary Cappello does not shrink either from truth or from beauty, and in every way gives herself, and therefore gives to us, her readers, the uncompromising depth of her experience so that Called Back becomes a memoir about breast cancer in the particular, but, like any true poetry becomes more – a story about the experience of profound suffering, and how one brave, resilient and brilliant woman found her way through.” – Jane Lazarre, author of Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery

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