Today BuzzFeed Books published Matthew Derby’s incredibly moving piece about his sister, Margaret, who was born without the ability to speak, and how writing The Silent History helped him understand her—and his own relationship to language—decades after her death. Reader, we’re covered in shivers over here.
Matthew will be in Brooklyn tonight, along with fellow Silent History author Eli Horowitz, for a Q+A and readings from the book by Alex Wagner, Eszter Balint, and Sloane Crosley. The event’s at powerHouse at 7pm; we’ll be serving wine. RSVP!
Here’s an excerpt from “My Sister Lived in Silence”:
In the dream I am in my childhood home. I am standing in the doorframe of my sister Margaret’s room, watching her unpack her bags from a semester at college. For some reason she is always returning from a semester at college, even though she’d be in her fifties by now. I stand there, transfixed — not just because Margaret is standing in her bedroom, or because she’s getting a college education, or simply because she’s alive and vibrant in this impossible present moment. It’s that when I enter the room, she speaks to me. I hear her voice. This is always the thing that stays with me when I return to the waking world. Her voice, in my dreams, is somehow clear and familiar and utterly alien at the same time. Because Margaret never spoke a single word in her life — a life that ended before I could begin to understand it for what it really was.