Dear DeeDee (Paperback)
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West Coast-based Aunt K (the author) writes to niece DeeDee, ostensibly to bring her up to speed on family history and share anecdotes about their North Carolina relatives, past and present. The letters soon evolve into broader discussions of community, loss, love, ambition, leaving the South (in body, if not mind) and what it means to negotiate life as a female. Integral to the correspondence are books and writers (from Burroughs to Woolf), landscapes and cityscapes in North Carolina, California, New Mexico, New York, East Sussex and elsewhere. A persistent theme: the inter-weavings of person and place. It is also, in the sum of its parts, deeply concerned with the question of which elements (genetic and circumstantial) conspire to make us who we are.
About the Author
Kat Meads is the award-winning author of 20 books and chapbooks of poetry and prose. She has received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo, and the California Arts Council. Her short plays have been staged in New York and Los Angeles.
"If you know Kat Meads’s work, you’ll recognize the author in these pages. If you don’t know her, you’re in for a treat. Taking the form of letters to her niece in 1996, Dear DeeDee consists of vignettes, which, when quilted together, describe an entire life. A cynical romantic, a clear-eyed myopic, and an honest fibber, Meads emerges in these pages not so much as a memoirist but as a chronicler of a time, place, family and way of life which is no more. The details of her Southern upbringing are precise, the humor acerbic, and the abiding love she has for her family, particularly for her beloved brother, affecting. You’ll finish this evocative book wishing you had an aunt like Woolf-worshipping, keenly-aware, word-braiding Meads." —Allison Amend, author of Enchanted Islands and A Nearly Perfect Copy
"My first encounter with the writing of Kat Meads was her spellbinding genre-blurring story In the Guise of an Explanation of My Aunt’s Life, a three-decades-ago precursor to this beguiling take on "Southern memoir". Always defiant of definition, Meads has mapped a unique family and a special region without chronology or longitude, and has rendered a particular life and a whole way of life in epistolary vignettes that bend the two ends of a linear genealogy together into a circle." —Cris Mazza, author of Various Men Who Knew Us as Girls and Something Wrong With Her
"The magic and joy of an intimate conversation is hard to renounce. We simply need to share our stories, and Kat Meads does just that in this charming and chatty epistolary memoir to a beloved, pretend niece. Family lore, life wisdom, and real affection abound in these letters. In our current zeitgeist of swift and glib communication, Meads swims upstream past 280 characters of a tweet, texts open to misinterpretation, deadening email chains, to remind us all of the delight in the art of letter writing. Dear DeeDee is an absolute pleasure to read." —Natalie Serber, author of Shout Her Lovely Name and Community Chest
"In these hilarious and heart-breaking letters, exiled Southerner Kat Meads remembers, regrets, and makes us ‘bark-laugh." —Norma Watkins, author of The Last Resort: Taking the Mississippi Cure and That Woman from Mississippi
"Like a stone skipping across a pond, the book’s structure touches on depths without wholly revealing them. ...As a reverie, Dear DeeDee is as carefully packed as an overnight suitcase, its final destination signaled as much by what’s left in as what’s left out." —Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews
"The depth of field Meads painstakingly develops in Dear DeeDee creates a kind of Geertzian modality, a thick description of the valences of time, place, mood—all of which make it a pleasure to read, full of local color, brimming with remembrances of a certain strain of American family life, with its quirks, snarky asides, and quiet tragedies." —Diana Jones-Ellis, The Lit Pub
"Dear DeeDee challenges the idea of what an epistolary form can achieve. The addressee doesn’t need to actually exist; in fact, writing to a made-up person can allow for a deeper connection between the author and the reader without intrusively breaking the fourth wall. The interesting form brought me in, and Kat Meads used it effectively to tell her story and explore topics in her unique, conversational voice. It was an engaging work, well worth the reading experience." —Alex Champman
"Meads’ beautiful sentences, light touch, repetition of form, and familiar narrative structure, keep the reader dipping back in. It is a Gen X devotional to all we carry..."—Tupelo Quarterly