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Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  25 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Six houses, five apartments, three motels, a Hollywood mansion, and a small vegetable farm in Pennsylvania. Experiencing the early life of self-taught artist, writer, and drummer, Carol Es was enough to confuse any kid. Carol grew up believing she was inherently bad; she'd suffered psychological abuse of her mentally ill mother, an unstable family that moved around a dozen ...more
Paperback, 370 pages
Published April 6th 2019 by Desert Dog Press
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Michael Phillips
In Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley Carol Es has written about her life, but in doing so she's also written about life as that thing we all share, our essence blasted across the stars. It's all here, and after reading it, you may just come away changed.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is life, brothers and sisters. Life and love and survival, and I will testify here and now that I could not stop turning the pages. Some people have an inherent knowledge of things, you dig, a free and unobst
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After I read the first few pages I slowed down. This was not a book to only read, but to read a bit and think about it for a while after. I knew absolutely nothing about the Scientology faith/cult, but after reading about the total mind (and life/finances) control techniques I wondered how anyone escapes it. I knew Carol Es was an artist, but I've learned about her equal passion for her music and I think she achieved a degree of success in that pursuit as well. Now this book...Carol is an awesom ...more
Carol Es)
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'd just like to share a couple of editorial reviews about my book here:

"...acerbic, warm, and funny. A captivating account filled with sharp perspectives on mental illness, childhood trauma, Scientology, and art."
-Kirkus Reviews

"...[a] well-paced, captivating memoir, [and] transcendent story about how fostering one's own creativity affords resilience and the means for survival."
-David Herman for IndieReader

"Carol's deeply moving and inspiring story sheds light on the resiliency of the human spi
Damn this book is excellent. Where to begin? It's a memoir of a life trying to grow up in California in the 70's, 80's, 90's as a female, a drummer, a sister, a daughter, an artist and a Scientologist. Ultimately it's about surviving all that and not going completely insane, the quest to lead a good life.

I could go on and on about all the "stuff" author Carol Es goes through but that might just look like a laundry list because the memoir is far from that. How does she tell this tale of survival
Stephen Hines
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May you live in interesting times.

This saying, perhaps mistakenly attributed to the Chinese, is meant to be a curse. Who, especially an artist, would want to live in any other times? Ask Carol Es, she'll let you know why.

Throughout Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, Es is seemingly strapped to a spinning wheel, while a blindfolded carny throws knives at her, knives tipped with the poison of her off kilter family, sexual assault, Scientology and abusive relationships. Most of this takes place b
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love memoirs. I am not sure if it is the reality tv junkie in me, a sick voyeuristic look into other people's lives. Or maybe it is the "I'm not alone" feeling I sometimes get when I can relate to the author's struggles.

Carol Es shares her raw and heartbreaking journey growing up being subjected to emotional and psychological abuse. Normally I like a timeline to run straight from beginning to end. But her ability to weave the story of her childhood in with the more present day really gives you
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.


One woman’s harrowing journey through a tumultuous childhood and the back and forth struggle between living a “normal life” and being indoctrinated into Scientology comes to life in author Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”. Here is t
Jocelyne Desforges
Shrapnel in San Fernando Valley is an important book for all women, men, and especially artists because it has a lot to with courage and endurance, which is something that we all need every single day.

The tone is straight forward, sometimes brutal and even crazy funny as the author struggles and manages to draw some conclusions. Carol makes some brilliant statements as she is resurfacing after a truly rough start.

Her memoir is also peppered with beautiful ink drawings that perfectly describe he
Peter Clothier
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You’ll find yourself rooting for Carol all the way through this hair-raising account of a brutally dysfunctional childhood, a bewildering adolescence of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, and an early adulthood oppressed by the manipulative wiles and practices of the so-called “church” of Scientology. You’ll be rooting for her because, despite all the evils that befall her, she remains herself—perhaps curiously—an innocent. More than that, you’ll be rooting for her because you know that she’s a survivo ...more
John Martin
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like it had to be written and there are times when it appears to have flowed effortlessly from Ms. Es’ hands while simultaneously clearly conveying how it must also have required a crow bar to unearth some of these feelings and memories to spill to the page. One thing is clear, she didn’t try to write this book, she damn well wrote it. There’s very little attempt to foster imagery here; rather, the imagery develops on its own through the forthright nature of how the story is told ...more
Corinne Lightweaver
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Artist Carol Es's memoir is part tragedy, part family history, part vanquishing the demons and surviving. A self-taught contemporary mixed media abstract non-binary artist from Los Angeles, Carol's work is collected in the Getty, Brooklyn Museum, and National Museum of Women in the Arts, among others. Their compelling story draws on their childhood helping their father cut patterns for the Los Angeles Garment District, their years as a professional drummer, and their descent into and escape from ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley" by Carol Es

A memoir from musician and artist Carol Es. Tales from childhood through neglect, mental illness, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, to becoming thoroughly involved in Scientology. This is a story illustrating (both literally, as many of Carol's sketches are included, and figuratively speaking), Carol's ups & downs, many adventures, sorrows, as well as mind control and indoctrination.

I felt like I was living life along with Carol as her writing is rea
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, my! The story itself would have been a fantastic piece in itself, but remembering that it really happened to somebody takes the book to a different level. I was amazed at the trust the author placed in all who will read it, feeling honored, moved, disturbed. My heart went to Carol all the way to the end and beyond.
The only thing that jumped at me in a negative way, I felt like the last 3 chapters or so were written in a rush. They lacked the build up the rest of the book had. Perhaps it is d
D.G. Underwood
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This a very personal book that shines a light on how we become ourselves. Carol unabashedly tells her story of personal angst, disappointment, self-loathing, and tragedy in a human, soul-searching, and often humorous way. The story is one of struggle, abuse, and mental anguish. I found the story to be sad, funny, tragic, and ultimately uplifting. It was well worth reading and I commend Carol for having the courage to strip away the pretenses and share her story.
Truly Trendy PR
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es is a heartbreaking story of survival. t's a memoir of a life trying to grow up in California in the 70's, 80's, 90's as a female, a drummer, a sister, a daughter, an artist and a Scientologist. Es takes us through all this with a singular voice, full of humor and warmth. A heartfelt story of a family dealing with the uncertainties of life and letting family help you through. ...more
Now and again i enjoy reading something different from the usual genres that i generally read. I am glad that i read it as it was interesting in parts, but that is as far as it goes. I can see why this memoir would appeal to some and not to others.

My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy. This is my honest review.
Emily Nicole
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in the giveaway! I enjoyed the story and recommended it to my book club
Paul Smith
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about the life of the author. She tells everything about her life, both the good and the bad.
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Native Los Angelina, Carol Es, now Ayin Es, is a writer, musician, and artist by trade, known primarily for creating personal narratives within a wide spectrum of media. They often use past experience as the fuel for their subject matter. They have written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post, Whitehot Magazine, and Coagula Art Journal. Their prose has been published with small presses ...more

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