Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B

I just finished My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B.

This warm, wry, upsetting memoir focuses on Cheryl Burke's late teens in New Jersey and her twenties in downtown NYC. Corny to say, but it's a coming of age story, about a young woman from a brutal home finding her awesome place in the downtown arts scene. Most moving is the way she rebels against the limitations of her family milieu (her guidance counselor suggested she be a toll booth collector) and insists on being an independent artist.

Her memoir ends at the moment when she chooses sobriety, when she takes a step away from the exciting social chaos of her life, and turns toward the future. Unfortunately, Cheryl Burke's future was tragically short. She died at 38 of "medical malpractice" as it states in the forward, or, complications for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The afterward by her girlfriend was beautiful and I feel lucky to have had a glimpse into this remarkable woman's life and art.

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