The Ladies Gallery: A Memoir of Family Secrets

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9781590513231: The Ladies Gallery: A Memoir of Family Secrets
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A shred of black lace. A broken hand mirror. A spidery strip of false eyelash. These are the fragments left to Irene Vilar, granddaughter of Lolita Lebrón, the revered political activist for Puerto Rican independence who in 1954 sprayed the U.S. House of Representatives with gunfire, wounding several congressmen, and served twenty-seven years in prison. In The Ladies' Gallery, Vilar revisits the legacy of her grandmother and that of her anguished mother, who leaped to her death from a speeding car when Vilar was eight.

Eleven years after her mother's death, Vilar awakens in a psychiatric hospital after her own suicide attempt and begins to face the devastating inheritance of abandonment and suicide passed down from her grandmother and mother. The familial pattern of self-destruction flings open the doors to her national inheritance and the search for identity. Alternating between Vilar's notes from the ward and the unraveling of her family's secrets, this lyrical and powerful memoir of three generations of Puerto Rican women is urgent, impassioned, and unforgettable.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Lolita Lebrin's granddaughter, heir to the most public female embodiment of heroic self-sacrifice in Puerto Rico in this century, [has written] a memoir full of searing, intimate truths, silences broken open to reveal the personal costs of public myth making. . . . A momentous act of courage. "
-- The Women's Review of Books
A shred of black lace. A broken hand mirror. A spidery strip of false eyelash. These are the fragments left to Irene Vilar, granddaughter of Lolita Lebrin, the revered martyr for Puerto Rican independence who in 1954 sprayed the U.S. House of Representatives with gunfire. In The Ladies' Gallery, Vilar revisits the legacy of her grandmother and that of her anguished mother, who leapt from a speeding car when Vilar was eight. Eleven years after her mother's death, Vilar awakens in a psychiatric hospital and begins to face the devastating inheritance of abandonment and suicide passed down to her from grandmother and mother.
Alternating between Vilar's notes from the psychiatric ward and the unraveling of her family's secrets, this razor-sharp memoir of three generations of Puerto Rican women is urgent, impassioned, unforgettable.

"An autobiography as fantastic as any novel. "
--Boston Globe

"Profoundly moving [and] beautifully written."
--Rosario Ferre, author of The House on the Lagoon

About the Author:

Irene Vilar was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She is the author of Impossible Motherhood (Other Press, 2009). The Ladies' Gallery was a Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit Free Press notable book of the year and was short-listed for the 1999 Mind Book of the Year Award. She is a literary agent and editor of The Americas series at Texas Tech University Press.

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Vilar, Irene
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Irene Vilar, Gregory Rabassa (Translator), Carlin Romano (Foreword)
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