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Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father

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A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father.

After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising a child.

Steve throws himself into San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene. He takes Alysia to raucous parties, pushes her in front of the microphone at poetry readings, and introduces her to a world of artists, thinkers, and writers. But the pair live like nomads, moving from apartment to apartment, with a revolving cast of roommates and little structure. As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate who can transform the ordinary into magic, but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference.

In Alysia’s teens, Steve’s friends—several of whom she has befriended—fall ill as AIDS starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then in France, her father tells her it’s time to come home; he’s sick with AIDS. Alysia must choose whether to take on the responsibility of caring for her father or continue the independent life she has worked so hard to create.

Reconstructing their life together from a remarkable cache of her father’s journals, letters, and writings, Alysia Abbott gives us an unforgettable portrait of a tumultuous, historic time in San Francisco as well as an exquisitely moving account of a father’s legacy and a daughter’s love.

It has been named a Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award Honor Book for 2014.

326 pages, Hardcover

First published June 3, 2013

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About the author

Alysia Abbott

6 books121 followers
Alysia Abbott's debut book, Fairyland, A Memoir of My Father (W.W. Norton) was a New York Times Editor's Choice, and an O, The Oprah Magazine pick for summer 2013. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Real Simple, Slate, Salon, TheAtlantic.com, and Psychology Today, among other publications.

Alysia grew up in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the only child of gay poet and writer, Steve Abbott. After he died, she relocated to New York City, where she worked at the New York Public Library and received an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from New School University.

In 2009 she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she lives today with her husband and two children.


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