Kelly Carlisle’s personal essays have appeared in the New England Review, Salon.com, Ploughshares and more. She has a Ph.D in English from the University of Nebraska and lives with her family in Texas, where she is an assistant professor at Trinity University.
Kelly Carlisle was three weeks old when her mother was strangled in downtown Los Angeles, leaving Kelly in the care of her grandfather, an eccentric Englishman who owned a porn store and lived on a boat in the harbor. It is here that Kelly finds a home amongst friendly alcoholics and the city’s forgotten residents. But she can’t help but wonder if she is destined to become a part of the dysfunction that surrounds her.
As an adult, Kelly is drawn to the thornier truths of her own family history. To piece together the sad narrative of her mother’s life and death, Kelly goes back to the beginning—to a mother she never knew, a thirty-year-old cold case, and two of Los Angeles’s most notorious murderers.
Unflinchingly raw and vividly drawn, We Are All Shipwrecks is a memoir of an unconventional childhood and one woman’s courageous journey to the knowledge that where you come from isn’t always who you are.