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I'VE HAD TO THINK UP A WAY TO SURVIVE:
ON TRAUMA, PERSISTENCE, AND DOLLY PARTON
University of Texas Press's American Music Series
Spiegel & Grau Audiobook/Paperback
Add on goodreads here.
Read an excerpt in:
A "Best Book of 2022" per The Boot!
Listen to an interview on Kirkus Review's Fully Booked podcast.
Listen to an interview on Montana Public Radio.
Listen to an interview on Houston Public Radio.
Listen to an interview on Jefferson Public Radio.
Listen to an interview on The Drunken Odyssey podcast.
Watch the NYC book launch at Greenlight Books.
Watch the virtual book launch at 92Y.
Watch a conversation about the book at the South Orange Public Library.
Watch a conversation about the book Literati Bookstore.
Watch a conversation about the book with the Popular Music Books in Process.
Read an interview in BOMB.
Read an interview in Lilith Magazine.
"Melnick delivers a riveting blend of cultural criticism and memoir in this paean to Dolly Parton...a gorgeous story of survival and self-discovery." —Publishers Weekly *starred review*
"The author writes with remarkable vulnerability and candor yet ensures that the often-painful memories she relates don’t cloud her critical gaze. She moves gracefully between confessional and analytical registers, her prose both sharp and full of heart." —The Atlantic
"I’ve Had to Think Up a Way to Survive is more than an artful memoir; it is thought-provoking cultural analysis of a beloved icon whose relevance endures." — Book Page
"Like Dolly’s voice, Melnick’s tone is casual and joyous, yet still defiant, cogently seeking commonality between its two subjects and showing how she and Parton have each performed their womanliness—and all its concomitant mess....Better still is Melnick’s defense of herself, and of Dolly, against the dour elitism of academic feminism. Listen, Melnick tells us, sometimes the best way to fight the patriarchy is to put sequins on your tits." — The Georgia Review
"Melnick is an engaging, frequently hilarious main character in her own life...her book is a testament to the power of storytelling and to the help we sometimes get from people who don't even know we needed them." — Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"[O]ne of the most essential Parton-related reads. This thoughtful, moving memoir ties Parton’s music and public image to Melnick’s own experiences with misogyny and abuse. It’s a powerful look at the trauma many of us endure and how Parton’s uncrushable spirit and determination can inspire us all." — American Songwriter
"This is absolutely the book for any Dolly Parton fan, full of anecdotes and intricate history of The Leading Lady of Country. It was empowering and inspiring to read the stories of these women (Parton and Melnick) and to know they have made something of the ashes left when others lit a match." — Southern Review of Books
"[A] brilliant meditation on how music is not just the soundtrack of our lives, sometimes it’s what carries us through." — The Millions
"I never thought I would choose to read about Dolly Parton; like many supposedly self-respecting feminists I dismissed the Barbie-like figure as a woman who pandered to cishet men, who sought power in the conventional spaces of beauty and breasts. Melnick mines the much deeper side of this country music icon, her strategically brilliant, self-aware performativity that utilizes gender power relations to her advantage—or, at the very least, does the very best with what options she has." — The Common
"Melnick’s is one of the best music books I’ve read that wrestles with complexity and seeming contradiction." — PopMatters
A Nylon Magazine "Must-Read Book Release" for October 2022!
One of Book Riot's "Best New Nonfiction Releases" for October 2022!
Mentioned in The Times (UK) Style Section!
“It is a mighty task to write generously, robustly, and imaginatively about Dolly Parton, who already exists so broadly at the intersection of many American imaginations, all of them
flourishing and fluorescent. But what Lynn Melnick has managed is beyond mere tribute, and beyond biography—it is a rich, close reading of multiple lives, that sometimes find themselves touching. The narratives in this book are masterfully presented and do justice not only to the
life of its central subject but also the life of its writer.”—Hanif Abdurraqib
"Lynn Melnick's new book is an ode to storytelling itself, how it keeps us alive and makes our
lives more worth living, whether in music, poems, or even a biographical memoir that winds two stories together to make something stronger and more beautiful than either alone. A gorgeous and heart-rending story of survival. "—Melissa Febos
Winner of the Julie Suk Award!
Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award!
WATCH THE BOOK LAUNCH EVENT AT NYPL HERE !!
Add on Goodreads here.
Read the title poem here.
"Lynn Melnick’s Refusenik is a Jewish feminist tour de force. Relentless in her will to go on despite all of the forces that would suppress her, Melnick interrogates the gaze of patriarchy, antisemitism, and racism, all the while maintaining a nuanced self-awareness of the unavoidable limitations of her own speaking subject. In the tension between the silencing forces of violence and trauma and the speaker’s tenacity, wit, and candor, we are barreled through this triumphant new collection. This is a book you’ll devour quickly, then read again and again. Its wisdom is quicksilver, its realizations necessary in our current moment so fraught with hatred. Melnick’s most powerful work to date, Refusenik is a book that refuses to be denied." Judges Citation for the National Jewish Book Awards
“A fierce, feminist page-turner of a book…” Electric Literature (named one of their "favorite poetry collections of 2002"!)
"Unafraid to share deep vulnerabilities with detail and deadpan, Melnick brings energy and intelligence to her self-possessed third collection.... Readers will find Melnick's voice a welcome presence that never shies away from the pain and beauty that life brings" Publishers Weekly
"Resilience, conceptually, can have sticky connotations. There is the risk of obfuscating the still omnipresent pains, struggles, or traumas that trouble everyday existence. Yet, the poems in Refusenik enact, as the definition of “refusenik” promises, a protest, a refusal of patriarchal, Anti-Semitic norms and laws." Brink Journal
Read a review in The Adroit Journal here.
Read a review in River Mouth Review here.
Listen to a podcast interview about the book here.
Read an interview about the book here.
Listen to one of the poems read on The Slowdown here.
LANDSCAPE WITH SEX AND VIOLENCE
“Landscape with Sex and Violence is vital reading for the #MeToo movement."
"[A] fierce new collection ... It would be easy to call these poems brave, tough, and angry but fairer to say that Melnick has gone beyond to a cool, critical assessment of moments that define women's lives." Library Journal
"Melnick’s craft is in the extreme language and unfamiliar syntax which blends a brew that, while bitter, is also intoxicating." The Rumpus
"Melnick explores rape culture as it intertwines with surrounding environments, and though at times the poetry is so raw your skin feels non-existent, these words are much needed. She writes about sex work, abortion, rape, the female body—stories and topics that need to be voiced and visible and out in the open. But the poems also contain hope, and love, and physical pleasure." Book Riot
“Melnick combines the readability of fiction with the compression of poetry. Having both qualities in a single collection is a rare achievement." Brooklyn Rail
"In her singular, sly way, Melnick names and tends to her own pain and anger so as to bring us as readers into the slow poem-by-poem regeneration of our common culture. Holding us to the act of witnessing her subversive repair—as we hold her book now in hand—Melnick makes us party to her radical intervention." Chicago Review
"The speaker unflinchingly dismantles idyllic, cultivated landscapes in favor of revealing those where 'crop hangs over gates into dumpsters' and she 'used half a citrus to demonstrate/ what you could do to my cunt.' Over and over, the speaker creates these sharp, distinct and unforgettable images, even when others attempt to render her powerless, or silence her, or leave her to the fog..." Kenyon Review
"In Landscape with Sex and Violence, Melnick writes in part to show rape culture as unambiguous, to reveal misogyny’s normalization as absurd, and to defy those who ask about a victim’s 'role in the incident.' But she mines complexity by grounding these poems in the survivor’s mental strategies... Melnick represents two related dimensions of rape culture: that it is a constant feature of the world in which one lives, and that it changes the way one sees that world." Boston Review
Also reviewed/featured in The Poetry Foundation, Jacket2, Lit Hub, Ploughshares, BOMB, The Rumpus, Poetry Daily, Electric Literature, Women's Media Center, Cincinnati Review, Hyperallergic, KSFR, The Volta Blog, Luna Luna Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Bind, Heard Tell, Anomalous Press, Tell Tell Poetry, and Vallum Magazine.
A Coldfront "Top 40 Poetry Book, 2012"
"Demandingly charming, consistently unpredictable..." Publisher’s Weekly
"These poems are brilliantly dissembling and arch, yet very focused on — and supremely smart about — the subjective history of the self...” Huffington Post
"Melnick’s prickly debut book is deft, dark, mostly fierce, occasionally forlorn. It is full of briefly glimpsed landscapes, many whirring by in a bleak but radiant California." Barnes & Noble Review
"Lynn Melnick’s poems recall the raw power of Anne Sexton and read like Lynchian dreams. The voice of these poems proves consistent and potent, steeping the book in weather and worry, in impulse and flesh, sometimes in blood. . . and all demand recognition of truth, of human details we might rather deny." Coldfront
Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick, editors
A Horn Book "Top Ten Book for Summer”
One of CCBC’s “2016 Choices”
One of Split This Rock’s “2015 Poetry Books We Love”
A Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature “Best Children’s Book of the Year”
One of Teen Vogue’s “Best Poetry Books”
"Marvelous … Please Excuse This Poem comes billed as a book for younger readers; hence, its low price tag. This is part of the sneaky power of the collection, which recognizes that poems are for readers of all ages, that it is not age but intention, empathy, clarity that counts." David Ulin, LA Times
"Incisive and occasionally brash, the selected works by these poets on the rise showcase the challenges of 21st-century living for readers who are ready for them." Kirkus Reviews
CREATIVE NONFICTION/ESSAYS ONLINE