AutobiographyI Love You But I Have Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

I Love You But I Have Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins


There are things in this world that mess with your brain. This book is one of them. It is uniquely mercurial, darkly funny and completely unsettling all in one whirlwind of disjointed prose. In truth who of us doesn’t think about just jumping on a plane with whatever you can grab to avoid dinner/bath time/bed time/homework/life/tidying up. My destination is Bali or @maylindstromskin ‘s house if I ever disappear btw!

Published tomorrow in the UK by @riverrun_books the nearest label is “autofiction” combining elements of fiction and autobiography. Part of its sorcery is that you don’t know what is real and embellishment. Author @clairevayewatkins is audaciously candid, the main character bears her name and has her dysfunctional family (father part of the Charles Manson cult, mother a con artist addict). 

Claire is spiralling in the depths of post partum depression, she leaves behind her child, husband and academic career, flying with little more than a breast pump to a speaking engagement and relives her tumultuous childhood and inter generational trauma in the Mojave dessert. The story is interspersed with letters from her mother to a cousin in reverse chronological order.

Reading this was transcendent, hedonistic, and chaotic, like digesting shards of glass. She is increasingly erratic, fighting a biological pull home in which she excavates memories of the past all while battling the inherent loss of identity when transitioning from woman to mother. 

Themes include poverty, neglect, addiction, mental health, cults, friendship and familial bonds with a definite undertone of feminist thought – I particularly enjoyed the highlighted disparity in societal reaction to a non-maternal mother compared to men. It reminded me in parts of the style of Patricia Lockwood’s No One is Talking About This. 

Folks I don’t know if I loved it or was just completely captivated by its originality. I do however know that I need to discuss it and read more about the Manson cult immediately.

~ Chaya

Thank you so much @riverrun_books@quercusbooks@anabooks (Ana we need to discuss this one!!!) for sending us this advance copy {Ad:PR Copy}

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