Heidi Julavits’s “Directions to Myself”
By LARB Radio HourJuly 28, 2023
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Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by author Heidi Julavits, whose new book is called Directions to Myself: A Memoir of Four Years. Heidi Julavits is also the author of The Folded Clock: A Diary as well as four novels. She is an associate professor at Columbia University. In Directions to Myself, Heidi returns to her own life, specifically her relationship to her pre-adolescent son, whose childhood is nearly at an end. After a student at her university accuses another of rape, she begins to wonder about how a mother should steer her son as he grows into a man. How can a parent guide and form who their child becomes? How much of our personhood is nature, nurture, or culture? She looks back at her own childhood, growing up in Maine, and the lessons and stories she heard from her own parents. The book works through Julavits’s own private thoughts and heartaches, but always leads back to bigger questions about the time we live in, the way we think about justice and punishment, and how we form ourselves as people.
Also, John Yau, author of Please Wait By the Coatroom: Reconsidering Race and Identity in American Art, returns to recommend Ghost Music by An Yu.
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