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Dear Damage

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A harrowing and heartfelt essay collection weaving narratives about family, gun violence, art, and the American Dream.

Two weeks before her grandfather purchased a gun, Ashley Marie Farmer’s grandmother tripped as she walked across their living room. It was a swift accident on an ordinary day: her chin hit the floor; her cervical spine shattered. She asked, “I’m paralyzed, aren’t I?” Later, thinking to put her out of her misery, he kissed his sleeping wife of sixty-three years and shot her in the chest. He tried to shoot himself too, but the weapon broke apart in his hands. He was immediately arrested. This is the scene we are greeted with at the outset of Farmer’s stunning collection of hybrid essays. One of its greatest features is the variety of voices, a kaleidoscopic approach that corrals in autobiography, audio transcripts, media, legal documents, internet comments, short prose pieces, and more. The result is a moving, deeply satisfying, and eye-opening story. Ashley Marie Farmer is a profound writer who is clearly here to stay, her voice a true gift to our times.

ISBN-13: 9781946448903

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Sarabande Books

Publication Date: 03-15-2022

Pages: 200

Product Dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Series: Series in Kentucky Literature

Ashley Marie Farmer is the author of a chapbook and three books, most recently the poetry collection The Women (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). Her essays, poems, and stories can be found in places like Gay Magazine, TriQuarterly, The Progressive, Flaunt, Nerve, Gigantic, Buzzfeed, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. Ashley has received a 2019 Best American Essays Notable Essay distinction, Ninth Letter's 2018 Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Review's 2017 Short Fiction Award, and fellowships from Syracuse Universityand the Baltic Writing Residency. She lives in Salt Lake City, UT.

Table of Contents


Mercy 7
Jobs Peak, 1985 14
Audio Transcript (Recorded January 2, 2014) 16
Aftermath 19
Lucy, 1975 28
Internet Comments, 2014-2015 29
Transcript: Celebrities 32
Contradiction, 2014 36

American Dream Job 38
Nevada / St. Tropez, 1987 48
Slow Circles 49
Graceland, 1994 60
When the Gun Comes 62
Transcript: Hitchhikers 68
Animal Hours 72
Transcript: Shipyard 81

Body Composition 84
Transcript: Vinyl 94
Minivan, 1994 95
Transcript: Beaches 96
Bill, 1925-2016 98
Seeing the Dead Alive 99
Transcript: Games 108

Transcript: Matrimony 111
The Book I Would’ve Written With No Trouble In It 118
Piano Hour, 1995 116
End of the Line 117
Green Girls 126
Transcript: Riptides 128
If 130

Second Person 133
Titles of Essays I Didn’t Write 142
Things You Don’t Have to Be Taught, 1982 143
Transcript: Hazards 144
No One is Waiting 146

Letter to the Public Defender 153
Motion to Dismiss 155
Acknowledgements 172
Publication Credits 173
Biographical Note 174