Darkroom by Jill Christman
A Family Exposure (Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction)

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Darkroom: A Family Exposure is Jill Christman's gripping, funny, and wise account of her first thirty years. Although her story runs the gamut of dramatic life events, including childhood sexual abuse, accidental death, and psychological trauma, Christman's poignant memoir is much more than a litany of horrors; instead, it is an open-eyed, wide-hearted, and good-humored look at a life worth surviving.

Through a shifting narrative of text and photographs, Christman explores the intersection of image and memory and considers the ways photographs force us to rework our original memories. Darkroom is a page-turning and disturbing journey that begins with an older brother's near fatal burning and progresses through a counterculture childhood in which her free-spirited mother moves the family to an isolated mountaintop. The story advances into an adolescence of eating disorders and barely remembered sex, slams into a young adulthood of love, literature, drugs, death, and therapists, and ends soon after a beloved uncle bleeds to death in a federal prison while serving a ten-year sentence for growing marijuana.

Never sentimental, Jill Christman is brutally honest and surprisingly funny. She deftly blends narrative, quoted materials, her uncle's letters, and her father's photography to create a family saga that is both heartbreaking and exhilarating.


About Jill Christman

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Jill Christman teaches creative nonfiction in Ashland University’s low-residency MFA program and at Ball State University where she is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing. Her nonfiction has been published in Brevity, Barrelhouse, Descant, Literary Mama, Mississippi Review, Wondertime, and many other journals and magazines. She has been nominated on several occasions for the Pushcart Prize.
Published October 14, 2002 by University of Georgia Press. 254 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships.

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Halfway through his prison sentence the author and her mother arrive to visit, only to find that Mark has bled to death, alone in his cell, just hours earlier.

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Publishers Weekly

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"I have always been obsessed with photographs. Now I am obsessed with memory," writes Christman, recalling Marguerite Duras's declaration that "[p]hotographs promote forgetting."

Sep 02 2002 | Read Full Review of Darkroom: A Family Exposure (...

Story Circle Book Reviews

Jill Christman examines the interactions of memories and photos as she looks at her own family photos, stories, and personal memories in her award-winning memoir Darkroom: A Family Exposure.

Jan 30 2012 | Read Full Review of Darkroom: A Family Exposure (...

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