Drumroll please for my WOW guest Sue Silverman

Please give Sue Silverman a huge welcome. I’m so glad she agreed to stop at Choices while on her WOW – Women on Writing blog book tour.

I can relate to Sue Silverman author of The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. I too was a nice SueBookCoverlittle Jewish girl looking over at my WASP grade school classmates and wishing for their long blond waves, blue eyes, clear skin and willowy bodies instead of my frizzy dark hair, short and stocky frame, and my best feature, my hazel eyes, always hidden behind thick glasses. Unlike Sue, I did not experience an abusive upbringing. However, I write about the other taboo subjects that darkened my history: mental illness and suicide. I feel our frank and raw writing goes a long way to erasing the stigma associated with such topics. Plus, writing these hard stories can be healing. Putting your pain on the page can be very liberating.

That said,  I’m excited for you to read Sue’s thoughts about writing about taboo subjects.

Writing Taboo Topics: Incest, Sexual Addiction and – gasp! – Pat Boone!?

By Sue Silverman

How could Pat Boone be considered a taboo topic?

First of all, in case you’ve never heard of Pat Boone, he’s a 1960s pop-music idol who catapulted to fame by winning Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour – think American Idol but on black and white TV. His reputation was that of a squeaky-clean, wholesome singer – a faithful husband and father of four daughters – known for drinking nothing stronger than milk.

More recently, he’s known as a Christian conservative and Tea Party activist. In fact, Pat Boone’s political views are perhaps the main thing keeping him from being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so writing (albeit ironically) in praise of him carries a cultural stigma for a Jewish feminist like me.

Nevertheless, in my new book, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, I write about how, growing up, I wanted Pat Boone to adopt me (I wanted to be his fifth daughter), even though, on the face of it, we had nothing in common. I wanted to flee my Jewish upbringing and pass as Christian. Why? Because my Jewish father was a scary man who abused me.

At the heart of this book are three separate encounters with Pat Boone, who plays a pivotal role in my desire to find refuge in the dominant religion. Even though I had a good reason to want to “pass” as Christian – a reaction to my Jewish father’s abuse – still, this desire could be misperceived as wholesale rejection of my heritage – thus, very taboo!

Incest and Sexual Addiction
Believe it or not, my writing about Pat Boone, and my desire to be a cute blonde gentile girl, was as challenging as anything I’ve previously written.  I wrote about the taboo topic of incest in my first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You. Next, in a memoir titled Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction, I explore a topic that, especially in terms of women, is very misunderstood. Incest couldn’t possibly exist in middle-class respectable Jewish families, could it? Likewise, a well-educated woman, writing about sex addiction, also felt taboo – at least I had enough shame to prove that.

Cultural Taboos
Even though issues of identity and culture involve shared experience, it’s scary to be transgressive (or, worse, uncool) in the eyes of one’s peers. Wanting “to belong” is a very powerful emotion.  Why risk that?  Why not just “go along to get along”?

To write about a taboo topic means that you are willing to tackle a subject matter fraught with accepted wisdom, a topic about which the members of your tribe have already made up their minds. But only by writing about these subjects will I – any of us – fully understand these forces that shaped us: crucial for any memoirist.

So what, or who, is your tribe? What are your topics that are a cultural third rail, which can’t be touched without causing pain – perhaps to yourself, perhaps to others – but to which you feel compelled to explore, in writing, in order to plumb the depths of experience? What taboo subjects are your secrets?

***

Thanks so much Sue. Here’s some more information about her latest memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew.

Synopsis
Gentile reader, and you, Jews, come too. Follow Sue William Silverman, a one-woman cultural mash-up, on her exploration of identity among the mishmash of American idols and ideals that confuse most of us—or should. Pat Boone is our first stop. Now a Tea Party darling, Boone once shown as a squeaky-clean pop music icon of normality, an antidote for Silverman’s own confusing and dangerous home, where being a Jew in a Christian school wasn’t easy, and being the daughter of the Anti-Boone was unspeakable. And yet somehow Silverman found her way, a “gefilte fish swimming upstream,” and found her voice, which in this searching, bracing, hilarious, and moving book tries to make sense of that most troubling American condition: belonging, but to what?

Picking apricots on a kibbutz, tramping cross-country in a loathed Volkswagen camper, appearing in a made-for-television version of her own life: Silverman is a bobby-soxer, a baby boomer, a hippy, a lefty, and a rebel with something to say to those of us—most of us—still wondering what to make of ourselves.

SueAuthorPicSue William Silverman, Author Bio
Sue William Silverman’s new memoir is The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. Her two other memoirs are Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction, which is also a Lifetime TV movie, and Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, which won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir.  As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, and more.  She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Links
Website: http://www.suewilliamsilverman.com/
Amazon link to The Pat Boone Fan Club: http://www.amazon.com/Pat-Boone-Fan-Club-Anglo-Saxon/dp/0803264852/ref=la_B000APU4YM_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383753234&sr=1-4

Review
Kathy Pooler in her 5-star review of Sue Silverman’s latest memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, says:

“Sue William Silverman took me on her search for identity in her memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club. With wry humor and brutal honesty, she drew me into her story and kept me suspended in a rapid-fire series of deep reflections into her inner turmoil as a young Jewish girl who struggles to find stability and meaning in her life. In a soul-baring way, this memoir covers the terror of childhood molestation at the hands of her father, her struggles to find her identity as a young Jewish girl in a WASP school and neighborhood, her two marriages, her journey into sexual addiction in her adult years and her ultimate, hard-earned recovery.”

Sue Silverman’s WOW Women on Writing Blog Tour Schedule
Sue Silverman WOW Blog Tour
Monday, March 31 @ The Muffin
Interview and Giveaway

Wednesday, April 2 @ Caroline Clemmons
Guest Post

Thursday, April 3 @ Choices
Guest Post

Saturday, April 12 @ Vickie S. Miller
Review and Giveaway

Monday, April 14 @ The New Book Review
Review

Wednesday, April 16 @ Words by Webb
Review

Monday, April 21 @ National Association of Memoir Writers
Review

Wednesday, April 23 @ CMash Reads
Giveaway and Guest Post

Thursday, April 24 @ Memory Writers Network
Review and Interview

Friday, April 25 @ All Things Audry
Guest Post

Monday, April 28 @ Memoir Writer’s Journal
Guest Post

Tuesday, April 29 @ Thoughts in Progress
Guest Post and Giveaway

Friday, May 2 @ National Association of Memoir Writers
Interview

Sunday, May 4 @ Vickie S. Miller
Guest Post

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