Sandra Worsham, Going to Wings

at in store on 01/10/2018, 07:00 pm
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"Greensboro", NC
Sandra Worsham, Going to Wings Wednesday, January 10, 7pm "A palpable and invigorating book, mapping one woman’s lifelong efforts to discover her own sexual identity through Christianity and friendship.” Kirkus Review “Sandra Worsham’s humor, clear-eyed honesty stitch this amazing quilt of meaning and experience together in a wonderful way.” Jill McCorkle, author of Life after Life and Going Away Shoes Going to Wings: A debut memoir charts conflicts of sexuality and faith and the longing for companionship. The book opens in 1975 with Worsham rereading a letter she wrote to her mother confessing to a romantic relationship with another woman: “Mama, I have been in touch with Ellen again.” Dealing with an unfulfilling marriage to her husband, Harvill, the author experienced a sexual and psychic revelation when she started a surreptitious affair with another female teacher at her high school. But to her husband and mother, “I was a sick person with something disgusting, something like leprosy, something with sores that eat away at your body, something that eats you from the inside out.” Once their relationship was discovered, Worsham was threatened with institutionalization and forced to break it off. She divorced Harvill and began pursuing platonic friendships with other women. One was with an older woman who offered copies of Proust’s books and shared exotic tales from abroad, helping to expand Worsham’s worldview beyond her conservative Georgia town. But after her friend self-destructed (due to alcoholism), Worsham turned to her church choir and teaching life to guide her. Later, another woman, named Teeny, provided a meaningful platonic bond, one that made Worsham realize that her sexual orientation need not solely define her. Given the two friends’ closeness, many townsfolk suspected that they were lovers. Eventually, after enjoying several nonsexual bonds with other women, Worsham came out, finding solidarity in a lesbian group that met at a local restaurant called Wings. The memoir proves to be a rich and insightful account into the struggles that many members of the LGBT community face in navigating the heavy emotional terrain of faith, loneliness, and self-acceptance (“I thought that I, not other people, should be the one to decide my own sexual orientation,” Worsham writes). This is mostly owed to the way the author so deeply mines her own emotional history while simultaneously weaving religious references—such as “the Telling” for when she outs herself to her mother, as though the experience is a kind of biblical parable—to signal the many momentous rites of passage LGBT community members experience in their own journeys of self-discovery. Vividly interrogating these themes, this lesbian-specific memoir is a very welcome addition to the genre. Sandra Worsham’s stories have been published in Memphis Magazine, Carolina Quarterly, Western Humanities Review, Ascent, and Chattahoochee Review, among others. She won First in Fiction in the Red Hen Press competition, and her story “Pinnacle” was published in the 2008 Los Angeles Review. Two of her stories were Finalists at Glimmer Train. After she retired from teaching writing to high school students for thirty years, her book on teaching writing, Essential Ingredients: Recipes for Teaching Writing, was published by ASCD in 2001. She was Georgia’s 1982 Teacher of the Year and a 1992 Milken Award Winner. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. In June, 2006, she received her MFA in Fiction from Bennington College. She lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, with her spouse and their two dogs. "The struggle of the gay Christian's complicated effort to reconcile sexuality and faith is often overlooked by church leaders and more secular gays. But it is a complex, and deeply engaging journey. I was deeply moved by Sandra's book, engaged by her voice, her mind, her heart. I think many will find their very human story here in the hands of a wise and compelling woman." --George Hodgman, author of Bettyville “Sandra Worsham is the Mary Karr of Milledgeville, Georgia. This time the ‘Liars’ Club’ has extended its boundaries. The personal stakes break the reader’s heart as the lies, judgements, and deprivations whirl between Sandra, her family, her friends, her community, and her church. Yet this page-turning memoir of her quest for wholeness isn’t mired in despair. Despite the decades that she held her “vile” secret of homosexuality, she kept loving those who thwarted her coming of age. This page-turner oozes with Worsham’s grace and grit.” --Amy Lou Jenkins, author Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting “A terrific book of straight talk about a woman discovering her lesbian identity and holding to her faithfulness in God, as she lives in a world that makes those identities difficult to combine. Worsham writes in a way that captures the reader from the beginning page. She inspires us with her unflinching look at the hard task of living the truth, and the courage she shows in the face of loss.” --Elizabeth Cox, author of A Question of Mercy and Night Talk “Sandra Worsham has written a candid and memorable narrative of her life in Flannery O’Connor’s home town of Milledgeville, Georgia: coming out as a lesbian, converting to Catholicism, and finding a life partner. Her struggles with family, church, and self constitute a compelling story that will resonate with many readers, especially those confronting issues of sexual identity and faith.” Sarah Gordon, author of Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination, A Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia, and Distances "In Going to Wings, Sandra Worsham combines a southern raconteur's charm and candor with a social anthropologist's objective awareness to tell the story of a woman's second coming-of-age as a lesbian in a deeply conservative southern town. The result is a memoir both engaging and socially significant." --Peter Selgin, author of Drowning Lessons, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and The Inventors, a memoir. "Sandra Worsham loves women and she loves Catholicism. The result of loving both is a dramatic struggle well worth following.” --Bruce Gentry, Professor of English, Georgia College & State University, Editor of the Flannery O’Connor Review, and author of Flannery O’Connor’s Religion of the Grotesque

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