Personal Space: Stephanie Danler Never Thought She Would Write This Memoir
The Author of Stray Talks to Sari Botton
On this episode of Personal Space: The Memoir Show, Sari Botton interviews Stephanie Danler, author of the 2016 bestselling novel Sweetbitter, and now the memoir Stray, just published by Knopf. In the book, Danler poignantly tackles a variety of issues, including: the destructive nature of addiction; becoming a writer and wrestling with impostor syndrome; rejecting some of the things we inadvertently inherit from our parents; and what our responsibility is to parents who didn’t care for us properly. Please consider purchasing the book from your local bookstore, or through Bookshop.
From the episode:
Sari Botton: Was it hard to write so frankly about such tragically flawed parents who are still alive, and who are still in the throes of their addictions?
Stephanie Danler: The actual writing was not hard. I have an ability to black out the rest of the world when I’m writing. I don’t think about the reader or marketing or the people I’m portraying, or whose feelings might get hurt. That’s something that comes much later. I think that I really need that freedom, whether it’s a novel, but especially nonfiction, for the first draft. Then, of course, you read it.
In my case, I was horrified by the invasion not only of their privacy, but my own privacy, and how much shame was on the page. But the part of me that is a writer knows how important those points are. They’re like hot spots within a book. And they lend a certain urgency and authenticity. And I personally like to read books where I feel the author is taking a risk. And so, on the one hand, I’m very lucky, because I don’t have relationships to maintain with my parents. The book is really about letting them go and putting up boundaries. Neither one of them is in my life in a significant way. I can’t actually imagine what it would be like to write a memoir and see your parents every Sunday—and be honest.