Jami's photo credit: Jonathan Traviesa
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I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home (Ecco)
From New York Times bestselling author Jami Attenberg comes a dazzling memoir about unlocking and embracing her creativity—and how it saved her life.
In this brilliant, fierce, and funny memoir of transformation, Jami Attenberg—described as a “master of modern fiction” (Entertainment Weekly) and the “poet laureate of difficult families” (Kirkus Reviews)—reveals the defining moments that pushed her to create a life, and voice, she could claim for herself. What does it take to devote oneself to art? What does it mean to own one’s ideas? What does the world look like for a woman moving solo through it?
As the daughter of a traveling salesman in the Midwest, Attenberg was drawn to a life on the road. Frustrated by quotidian jobs and hungry for inspiration and fresh experiences, her wanderlust led her across the country and eventually on travels around the globe. Through it all she grapples with questions of mortality, otherworldliness, and what we leave behind.
It is during these adventures that she begins to reflect on the experiences of her youth—the trauma, the challenges, the risks she has taken. Driving across America on self-funded book tours, sometimes crashing on couches when she was broke, she keeps writing: in researching articles for magazines, jotting down ideas for novels, and refining her craft, she grows as an artist and increasingly learns to trust her gut and, ultimately, herself.
Exploring themes of friendship, independence, class, and drive, I Came All This Way to Meet You is an inspiring story of finding one’s way home—emotionally, artistically, and physically—and an examination of art and individuality that will resonate with anyone determined to listen to their own creative calling.
Jami Attenberg has written about food, travel, books, relationships and urban life for The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the Sunday Times, Slate, and others. All This Could Be Yours was published in 2019 by HMH Books and Serpent’s Tail (UK), as well as in Italy, Germany, China, and Brazil. Her work has been published in a total of sixteen languages. Her debut collection of stories, Instant Love, was published in 2006, followed by the novels The Kept Man and The Melting Season. Her fourth book, The Middlesteins, was published in October 2012. It appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, and was published in ten countries in 2013. It was also a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and the St. Francis College Literary Prize. A fifth book, Saint Mazie, was published in 2015 and has been optioned by Fable Pictures. Her sixth book, All Grown Up, was published in 2017 and was a national bestseller, appearing on numerous year-end lists.
Patricia Lockwood is the author of a novel, "No One Is Talking About This," finalist for the Booker Prize and the Women's Prize for Fiction; a memoir, "Priestdaddy”; and two poetry collections, "Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals" and "Balloon Pop Outlaw Black." Her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the London Review of Books, where she is a contributing editor. She lives in Savannah, Georgia.
Praise for I Came All This Way to Meet You:
“[Attenberg’s] frank and charming writing creates an intimacy with the reader. A fantastic choice for those who love writers’ memoirs, such as Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.” -Booklist
“A remarkable memoir I’ll be re-reading forever.” -Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody's Daughter
“This stunning work explores home not solely as geographic place but also as a mobile metaphor for the relationships we consistently run to and away from. Jami Attenberg cements her place as one of our greatest, most agile writers.” -Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy and Long Division
"I Came All This Way to Meet You—which features the shining prose that characterizes Attenberg's fiction, while allowing us a glimpse behind the curtain of her process and her personal history—is one of the most artistically invigorating books I've read in years. It made me want to sit down and write." -Liz Moore, author of Long Bright River
“I Came All This Way To Meet You showcases all the very best of Jami Attenberg’s gifts, bringing intimacy to the forefront of the work, asking the reader to stay close, pay attention, to learn. The book is an embrace, a love letter to work and to friendship.” -Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things and With Teeth
“I Came All This Way To Meet You is a love story; it shows us a way to love art and our lives and our souls...It’s Eat Pray Love for Nick Cave fans." -Emily Flake, New Yorker cartoonist and author of That Was Awkward
"A wise and witty glimpse behind the travels and travails of one of our most beloved contemporary novelists. I Came All This Way To Meet You brims with humor, humility, pathos, and intelligence. I gulped down every page and finished sated, as if I'd spent a long weekend with a dear friend." -Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood