cover image Everywhere the Undrowned: A Memoir of Survival and Imagination

Everywhere the Undrowned: A Memoir of Survival and Imagination

Stephanie Clare Smith. Univ. of North Carolina, $20 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-4696-7896-2

Poet and social worker Smith examines the fallout from her teenage sexual assault in her gut-wrenching debut. During the summer of 1973, when Smith was 14, her mother left on a monthslong camping trip with her boyfriend, leaving Smith to fend for herself in New Orleans. One night in July, Smith was abducted and raped by a stranger while walking home. In the immediate aftermath, she fumbled for support from trusted acquaintances including her math teacher and a friendly streetcar driver, only for them to sexualize her and brush her aside. Smith dealt with the long-simmering pain privately until, at age 30, she finally told her mother about the assault, and her mother reacted with rage against Smith for telling her so long after the fact (“Why are you telling me this? She was hot; she was mad. She walked like a gun when she walked out of the room”). Decades later, as Smith began to care for her dying, dementia-stricken mother, she came to an unsteady peace over their rift. In lyrical, metaphor-rich prose fragments that mine the cosmos, television, and avian life for meaning, Smith offers a harrowing yet hopeful look at the long road to recovery. This cathartic personal history is difficult to shake. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Hoffman & Assoc. (Feb.)