What's New at 826 National

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Home Wasn't Built in a Day, Foreword by Robin Williams

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Family stories are a strange concoction—a blend of autobiography, fiction, and sense memory served up by your favorite relatives and seasoned by time, cultural background, and shared experience.

My mother told me stories of being a teenager in 1930s New Orleans, a world of gay weddings and an artist who had a gorilla as a pet (the gorilla later tried to kill the artist because he fancied his girlfriend). It was a time of jazz funerals and love-me potions dispensed by women with faux-French names, big feathered hats, and monkey-fur accessories.

In opening this book, you enter a world where magic, myth, and memory cohabitate. In these stories, witches, dead Nazis, and lost ancestors all appear around the kitchen table—the place where so many family stories are told and relived again and again.

Some of the details are as familiar as the smell of your childhood home. In other stories, you will be in completely unfamiliar territory. You’ll read, for example, horrific accounts of genocide, told from a personal perspective of a survivor.

These myths and memories are precious, and it is my privilege to have sponsored this book and to present this collection to you. Please read these stories with the idea of visiting the characters and finding the treasures in your own family’s mythology. When oral history becomes literal, there is alchemy afoot.