KooKooLand by Gloria Norris
Gloria Norris’s KooKooLand is a memoir written on the edge of a knife blade. Chilling, intensely moving, and darkly funny, it cuts to the heart and soul of a troubled American family, and announces the arrival of a startlingly original voice.
Gloria grew up in the projects of Manchester, New Hampshire with her parents. At nine years old, she was gutsy and wisecracking, the perfect sidekick to her father, Jimmy. Jimmy is both dazzling and dangerous, always playing by his own rules and often on the wrong side of the law. He takes Gloria horseback riding, to slasher movies, to the bar, and the gun shop where she meets Susan. Beautiful, brilliant and kind, Susan embodies the kind of ambitious woman Gloria dreams of becoming.
But one night, a violent and brutal act alters all of their lives. The story that unfolds is a profound portrait of how violence echoes through a family, and through a community. From the tragedy, Gloria finds a way to carve out a future on her own terms and ends up just where she wants to be. Gripping and unforgettable, KooKooLand is a triumph.
Gloria began her film career in New York City as an assistant to Brian DePalma, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen. She has worked as a screenwriter with assignments from Paris to the Amazon, and as an independent producer. Her films have premiered at the Sundance Toronto and Tribeca film festivals.
Praise for Kookooland:
Kookooland is a truly original memoir, dealing with some pretty horrific things with deft humor and a big heart. Gloria Norris has a terrific voice, telling her story from the point of view of the smart, brave kid she must have been. With cinematic urgency, Norris conveys the strange truth that love, fear and hate for a father can live side by side, and that’s why violence can endure in families. I raced through this book, heart thumping and breaking simultaneously. (Julie Salamon, author of The Devil’s Candy and Wendy and the Lost Boys)
By turns heartbreaking and darkly humorous, the book not only offers a compelling yet comic portrayal of a fraught father-daughter relationship. Norris also reveals the way violence can become a self-replicating cancer within families. An intelligent and bracing memoir. (Kirkus Reviews)
“For anyone who might suppose that a New Hampshire childhood was about tapping maple trees and picking apples, here comes the dark side. I could not have dreamed up a family like the one Gloria Norris brings to life on these pages: crazy, funny, terrifying—or a childhood more filled with confusing contradiction. The brilliance of her story is that she somehow survived the violence that might have destroyed her to give us this dazzling, funhouse ride of a memoir. When you emerge, you may want to run away fast. Or buy another ticket and go back inside.” (Joyce Maynard, author of Labor Day and Under the Influence)
“Although many vibrant characters populate this chilling memoir, Norris’ re-creation of her early 1960s nine-year-old self is a spot-on treat and a terror. A tumble through a tumultuous time, in which the heroine inexplicably, beautifully lands on her feet.” (Booklist)