Sister Zero: A Memoir


Product Details

$17.00  $15.81
Slant Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.35 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Nance Van Winckel has published nine poetry collections, including a book of visual poems, Book of No Ledge. Of her five books of fiction, Ever Yrs, a novel in the form of a scrapbook, is the most recent. The recipient of two NEA fellowships, the Washington State Book Award, a Paterson Fiction Prize, Poetry Society of America's Gordon Barber Award, a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, and three Pushcart Prizes, Nance teaches in Vermont College's MFA Program and lives in Spokane.


"Everything can change, will change, out of nowhere, in one second. . . ." Such are the tensions driving Sister Zero, a study of loss and endurance in a family beset by illness and addiction. With a masterful mix of hybrid prose and visual art, Van Winckel crafts an impressionistic memoir as strange and wondrous as the 1964 World's Fair haunting its narrator-a dreamscape of Americana where poetry pops from cigarette ads and wisdom issues from the mouth of a talking horse on TV. Ultimately, Sister Zero is a portrait of strong free-spirited women seeking not so much "peace through understanding"-the motto of the `64 Fair-as happiness in uncertainty, clarity within contradiction, and the kind of grace felt only through grief. Eloquent. Edgy. Dazzling."

-Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, author of Finding Querencia: Essays from In Between

At the start of her stunning memoir Sister Zero, Nance Van Winckel asks, "Why worry the sorry?" It's a centering question as Van Winckel explores her younger sister's suicide and the equally tragic loss of her nephew. The past haunts even as the author's mother sinks into dementia, two prism angles in a lyric work obsessed with both remembering and forgetting. Postcards from the 1964 World's Fair serve as chorus, each collaged with text from the author, juxtaposing that event's cockeyed optimism with the hard truths of the now. Sister Zero ends in the "vast maybe," with a codicil of bits removed from the chapters: this story can never contain itself. The book is comical, clear-eyed, linguistically rich, and occasionally devastating. It helps me see again that Van Winckel is one of the most wildly imaginative writers of our time.

-Susanne Paola Antonetta, author of Entangled Objects

This masterful collection is a beautifully sharp treatise on mothers, daughters, and sisters, and the intractable and irreplaceable bonds, for better and worse, that hold them all together. Heartbreaking, funny, furiously truthful and bravely inventive, Nance Van Winckel's new book is unforgettable.

-Bret Lott, author of Jewel