Little, Brown & Company, 2015
The photographer Sally Mann’s memoir is weird, intense and uncommonly beautiful. She has real literary gifts, and she’s led a big Southern-bohemian life, rich with incident. Or maybe it only seems rich with incident because of an old maxim that still holds: Stories happen only to people who can tell them.
Like Mary Karr, Mann as a child was a scrappy, troublemaking tomboy, one who grew into a scrappy, troublemaking, impossible-to-ignore young woman and artist. She was raised in Virginia by sophisticated, lettered parents. When she grew too wild, they sent her away to a prep school in Vermont where, she writes, “I smoked, I drank, I skipped classes, I snuck out, I took drugs, I stole quarts of ice cream for my dorm by breaking into the kitchen storerooms, I made out with my boyfriends in the library basement, I hitchhiked into town and down I-91, and when caught, I weaseled out of all of it.”