Excavation: A Memoir
- Publisher: Future Tense Books (July 18, 2014)
- Length: 242 pages
- ISBN-10: 1892061708
- ISBN-13: 9781892061706
- Format: PDF, Epub, Mobi
- Downloaded: 44
Wendy C. Ortiz was an only child and a bookish, insecure girl living with alcoholic parents in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her relationship with a charming and deeply flawed private school teacher fifteen years her senior appeared to give her the kind of power teenagers wish for, regardless of consequences. Her teacher – now a registered sex offender – continually encouraged her passion for writing while making her promise she was not leaving any written record about their dangerous sexual relationship. This conflicted relationship with her teacher may have been just five years long, but would imprint itself on her and her later relationships, queer and straight, for the rest of her life. In Excavation: A Memoir, the black and white of the standard victim/perpetrator stereotype gives way to unsettling grays. The present-day narrator reflects on the girl she once was, as well as the teacher and parent she has become. It’s a beautifully written and powerful story of a woman reclaiming her whole heart.
Meet the author
Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of EXCAVATION: A MEMOIR (Future Tense Books, 2014) and Hollywood Notebook (Writ Large Press, 2014). Wendy writes the column “On the Trail of Mary Jane” for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nervous Breakdown, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Rumpus, Specter Magazine, and many other journals. She is co-founder, curator and host of the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series in Los Angeles.
“Disappointing” by Batya Swift Yasgur MA, MSW “firstname.lastname@example.org”
I respect the pain and struggle that went into this book. Having worked with many people who have undergone sexual abuse when they were children, I know how these traumas leave tattoos on the soul and psyche. And the author is certainly an accomplished writer. But I was very disappointed in the book because, in contrast to the minute detail she accords her experiences in her home, her sexual experiences with her teacher and others, her experiences with drugs, and s forth, there is very little focus on how she healed from it. As the title implies, the book seeks to "excavate" the past, but there’s insufficient attention to anything beyond her final meeting with her teacher. There are times when she "fast-forwards" to more current times, such as her work with troubled teenagers, or a session with a Jungian analyst. But I bought the book hoping for an understanding of the process that the author went through to heal her life, bond with a partner, and have a child. How did she go from the shattered, angry, acting out, confused, drug-abusing teenager, to where she is today? The book accords almost no space to that.
“Just not enough!” by KJ
My only complaint regarding this book is that it isn’t long enough. I want more of the story, more of the language. Beautiful book, gorgeous, couldn’t put it down. Thank you for sharing your story, Ms. Ortiz.
“BRAVA” by Luz
A raw, alive young girl to young woman journey, told with daring, courageous honesty. I’m sure you speak for many, Wendy, all those with secrets. BRAVA
“Powerful and complicated” by E
I had to let this book take over my life for a few days. Ortiz’s narrative is powerful and relentless: she doesn’t look away from painful and complicated truths, forming memory into incredibly textured characters. Wendy’s troubled situation and her development into a young adult are compelling as shaped by a writer skilled in crafting sharp scenes. So many moments from this book will stay in my head for a long time.