River Jordan, playwright and author of Southern Gothics like “The Gin Girl” and “Saints in Limbo,” will read from and speak about her new memoir at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Off Square Books. Jordan is stopping in Oxford on tour with the memoir, which came out on Tuesday.
Her book, titled “Confessions of a Christian Mystic,” discusses her own life’s journey, from her Southern upbringing to her life as an author. From personal notes sent by family and friends to anecdotes about disco nights and midnight rides, Jordan details the moments that made her who she is.
In a newsletter to her fans, Jordan said she wanted “Confessions of a Christian Mystic” to be an authentic representation of her life and that her memoir is something that she’s wanted to write for a while.
“I thought, ‘Life is short. No matter how long it is, it’s short,’” Jordan said. “And I only have this little bit of time to say what it is that I have left to say. Should I live to be 100 years old, there is only now — this small, beautiful shadow to step into and out of — and then we move to the beyond. I wanted to say the most important words I had to offer in those years. This was this moment.”
Jordan, whose fiction often takes place in the South, said that the stories in her memoir are placed in the environment that has inspired her work. To Jordan, there was no better place for a writer to grow up.
“(My life was) growing up very Southern in the rural landscape of what you might call a Southern Gothic backdrop of family and a foreground of dirt, lighting, heat, fireflies, gulf waters and palm trees,” she said. “My time was divided between the salty, white sands of the beach and the backwoods of my grandparents.”
In addition to living in the moment, Jordan credited her upbringing and family as other factors motivating her to write her book. She said that growing up in the South and in the church are part of the large landscape of the memoir.
“(My childhood home) was as perfect for a little girl born to write as it could be. When I was eleven years old, my mother joined the Episcopal Church. It had quiet and candles and reverence and a holy hush,” she said. “The result of all of those experiences, of family and love, writing and living and loving, of spiritual experiences and midnight road trips are captured in this little book.”
Lyn Roberts, the general manager of Square Books, said that asking Jordan back to Oxford was an obvious “yes.”
“We work with publishers when new books come out, and when we saw she was coming back with another book, we invited her,” Roberts said. “(Her memoir) is very spiritual, so anybody that’s a seeker would be interested in coming to see her speak.”