Francisco, Patricia Weaver 1951-
FRANCISCO, Patricia Weaver 1951-
PERSONAL: Born 1951, in Detroit, MI; married Timothy Francisco (a freelance photographer; divorced, c. 1994); children: one son. Education: University of Michigan, B.A. (journalism).
ADDRESSES: Home—Minneapolis, MN. Offıce— Graduate Liberal Studies Program, Hamline University, 1536 Hewitt Ave., Saint Paul, MN 55104. Agent— Ellen Levine Literary Agency, 15 East 26 St., Ste. 1801, New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer, editor, and teacher. Writing Consultants Inc., Minneapolis, MN, co-owner, 2000—; Hamline University, Saint Paul, MN, currently teaches creative writing. Former associate editor of Minnesota Monthly; cofounder of the Silent Witness Program; vice chair of the board of directors of The Loft Literary Center.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts fellow; two-time Bush Foundation fellow; grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board; Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction, 1997; Minnesota Book Award, 2000, for Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery.
Lunacy (play), Dramatic Publishing (Woodstock, IL), 1986.
Cold Feet, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Timothy Francisco) Village without Mirrors, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 1989.
Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery, Cliff Street Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Editor (with others) of Language of Light, COMPAS, 1983, and of Nature of the World, COMPAS, 1984.
SIDELIGHTS: Patricia Weaver Francisco is a writer and teacher whose works, though varied in scope and style, primarily address fundamental social issues such as discrimination and sexual violence.
Francisco began her writing career with the publication of Lunacy, a play based on the true story of thirteen women who, in the early 1960s, underwent rigorous training for the American space program—until their program was abruptly canceled, before any of them could go into space. A fictional look at the women's subsequent fates, the play, which was commissioned by the Women's Theatre Project, examines sexual discrimination and its consequences and voices hope that victims can find strength to overcome obstacles to meaningful life.
Francisco's second publication, the novel Cold Feet, also explores social issues, this time patriotism, morality, and social responsibility. The story follows the journey of Yoder, a Vietnam War draft dodger whom New York Times Book Review contributor Diane Ackerman described as "a shallow and not very interesting main character," as he tries to return to his old life in the United States after six years in exile in Canada. Rudely surprised by the changes he finds, Yoder hits the road, dropping in on friends and family, experimenting with petty theft, and trying to come to terms with his past. Although a Kirkus Reviews contributor dismissed Cold Feet as "a depressing work that fails to illuminate its period," Thomas L. Kilpatrick, writing in Library Journal, recommended the book, calling it "eloquent and compelling" and "a first novel of considerable substance despite a slow start."
Francisco's next project, Village without Mirrors, is a documentary of Mexico's Tarascan Indians. Francisco's prose and her then-husband's pictures record encounters with the Tarascans, who, with their 2,500-year history, had until recently remained so isolated that their language is unique, apparently unrelated to any other. The book met with lukewarm reviews: "Though occasionally insightful," commented a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, "the narrative is more often trite . . . and uneven in substance."
Francisco followed this effort with her intensely personal Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery, which chronicles, in what Washington Post Book World's Juliet Wittman called "stripped-down, electrifying prose," the author's terrifying, brutal rape and slow, painful recovery. In an online interview for Telling of Rape, Francisco described the book's title: "'Telling' is an expression I use for anyone's decision to make their true life visible to others. Having permission to talk about what is 'unspeakable' can transform the experience of rape for the survivor. . . . Telling assigns shame to the crime rather than to the survivor." In addition, Francisco sees telling as a form of prevention: "If we aren't talking about rape," she declared, "we permit its existence." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews praised Francisco's "enviable feel for language," concluding "Francisco is not afraid to tell. We all must be brave enough to listen."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1988, review of ColdFeet, p. 1343; January 1, 1999, review of Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery, p. 40.
Library Journal, November 15, 1988, Thomas L. Kilpatrick, review of Cold Feet, p. 84.
New York Times Book Review, February 19, 1989, Diane Ackerman, review of Cold Feet, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, March 24, 1989, review of Village without Mirrors, p.65.
Washington Post Book World, May 9, 1999, Juliet Wittman, review of Telling, p. 6.
Telling of Rape,http://www.tellingofrape.com/ (January 1999), interview with Patricia Weaver Francisco.*