Maureen Stanton reads from her memoir, the “mesmerizing . . . daring and important”* story of a risk-taking girlhood spent in a working-class prison town.
*Andre Dubus III
For Maureen Stanton’s proper Catholic mother, the town’s maximum security prison was a way to keep her seven children in line (“If you don’t behave, I’ll put you in Walpole Prison!"). But as the 1970s brought upheaval to America, and the lines between good and bad blurred, Stanton’s once-solid family lost its way. A promising young girl with a smart mouth, Stanton turns watchful as her parents separate and her now-single mother descends into shoplifting, then grand larceny, anything to keep a toehold in the middle class for her children. No longer scared by threats of Walpole Prison, Stanton too slips into delinquency—vandalism, breaking and entering—all while nearly erasing herself through addiction to angel dust, a homemade form of PCP that swept through her hometown in the wake of Nixon’s “total war” on drugs.
Body Leaping Backward is the haunting and beautifully drawn story of a self-destructive girlhood, of a town and a nation overwhelmed in a time of change, and of how life-altering a glimpse of a world bigger than the one we come from can be.
Maureen Stanton, the author of Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, has been awarded the Iowa Review prize, a Pushcart Prize, the American Literary Review award in nonfiction, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Stanton teaches at UMass Lowell.