Silverman, Sue William 1946-
SILVERMAN, Sue William 1946-
PERSONAL: Born April 14, 1946, in Washington, DC; daughter of Irwin (a lawyer, government official, and banker) and Fay (a homemaker and artist; maiden name, Silverman) Silverman; companion of Marc Sheehan (a poet). Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Boston University, B.S., 1968; Vermont College, M.F. A., 1988. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Historic preservation.
CAREER: Worked as intern and speech writer in Washington, DC, 1968-73; Galveston Historical Foundation, Galveston, TX, writer for preservation and restoration project, 1973-77; professional speaker, workshop presenter, and writer on incest, child abuse, and addictions, 1996—. Shorter College, adjunct instructor in English, 1990-93; Floyd College, University of Georgia, adjunct instructor, 1993-94; University of Alabama, Coal Royalty Chair in Creative Writing, 2001; also teacher at Berry College, Western Michigan University, and Vermont College; guest on television and radio programs. Judge of writing competitions.
MEMBER: International Women's Writing Guild, Associated Writing Programs, Authors Guild, National Writers Union, National Association of Women Writers.
AWARDS, HONORS: Creative nonfiction award, Associated Writing Programs, 1995, for Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You; honorary D.H.L., Aquinas College, 2001, for work in literature and child abuse victim advocacy.
Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You (memoir), University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1996.
Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction (memoir), W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2001.
Work represented in anthologies, including Peninsula: Essays and Memoirs from Michigan, Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, MI), 2000. Contributor of articles, essays, and short stories to periodicals, including Redbook, Chicago Tribune, WordWrights, Writer's Chronicle, Dominion Review, Charleston, Context South, Nebraska Review, Gulf Stream, and Old Red Kimono. Associate editor, Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.
Silverman's books have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Norwegian, and German.
SIDELIGHTS: Sue William Silverman told CA: "I was born in Washington, D.C., where my father was a high-government official in the Truman administration. Later we moved to the West Indies, where he was the president of a bank. He was also a child molester. The juxtaposition of this double life—seemingly perfect in public, dark and scary in private—is what I write about in my memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You. In my second memoir, Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction, I show how I replicated this double life as an adult. In public, all seemed fine; I attended college, worked on Capitol Hill, was married. But this image was a mask that hid my secret world of sexual encounters with dangerous men, a shadowy life of obsession.
"From about 1980 to 1992 I tried to tell my story as fiction. Looking back, I realize that the (unpublished) novels I wrote during this time lacked an authentic voice. It was my therapist, ironically, who finally suggested I write my own story. At first I resisted. I had never considered nonfiction and thought I had nothing to say about myself. Finally, just to humor him (I told myself), I acquiesced, even though I believed I'd only be able to write a paragraph at the most. Maybe a page. The moment I began Terror, Father, however, I felt as if I heard my real voice for the first time. I completed the 300-page manuscript in three months.
"In the way I better understood the dynamics of my incestuous family by writing about it, I then wanted, in Love Sick, to understand sexual addiction on a linguistic level. Writing memoirs allows me to organize my life, see connections, reflect upon events, discover the metaphors that guide me. I also wrote Love Sick (the first memoir on this subject from a woman's perspective) with the hope that my personal quest to become an emotionally authentic and sober woman might lessen the shame around this addiction. I hope that my journey in a society that celebrates its addictions might help others to know that recovery from the misuse of sex, food, drugs, work, alcohol, is possible. The responses to my work that mean the most to me come in whispered phone calls and letters from women thanking me for telling their stories, too."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Austin American-Statesman, January 12, 1997, review of Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, p. E6.
Booklist, November 1, 1996, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, p. 465; April 15, 2001, Bonnie Johnston, review of Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction, p. 1520.