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Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir

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An Instant New York Times Bestseller

A New York Times Notable Book

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2020

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by: The Washington Post, NPR, Shelf Awareness, Esquire, Electric Literature, Slate, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and InStyle

A chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy

At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

With penetrating insight and a searing voice that moves from the wrenching to the elegiac, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey explores this profound experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother’s life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience. Moving through her mother’s history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a “child of miscegenation” in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985.

Memorial Drive is a compelling and searching look at a shared human experience of sudden loss and absence but also a piercing glimpse at the enduring ripple effects of white racism and domestic abuse. Animated by unforgettable prose and inflected by a poet’s attention to language, this is a luminous, urgent, and visceral memoir from one of our most important contemporary writers and thinkers.

ISBN-13: 9780062248589

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 06-01-2021

Pages: 224

Product Dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)

Natasha Trethewey is a former US poet laureate and the author of five collections of poetry, as well as a book of creative nonfiction. She is currently the Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University. In 2007 she won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection Native Guard.

Table of Contents


[] 3

Prologue 5

1 Another Country 15

2 Terminus 51

[ ] 73

3 Soul Train 75

4 Loop 83

5 Pardon 87

6 You Know 89

7 Dear Diary 105

8 Accounting 111

[ ] 115


9 Clairvoyance 119

10 Evidence: Last Words 131

11 Hallelujah 141

12 Disclosure 155

13 Evidence: Tape of Recorded Conversations, June 3 and 4, 1985 159

14 What the Record Shows 189

15 June 5, 1985 191

16 Jettison 199

17 Proximity 201

[ ] 205

18 Before Knowing Remembers 207

[ ] 213

Acknowledgments 214