Bestselling author Connie May Fowler tells her own extraordinary story for the first time-the harrowing years of her childhood followed by the abusive relationship she endured as a young woman-and how the unconditional love of her dog helped her escape her physical and emotional bonds.Before Women Had Wings, Connie May Fowler's award-winning and bestselling fictional account of domestic abuse, touched thousands. In this piercing memoir, Fowler chronicles the emotional battery and physical abuse that marked her own passage to adulthood. She draws a searing portrait of growing up with her manipulative and needy mother, a woman unable to give the love and comfort every child has a right to expect.And then, as a young woman, Fowler found herself involved with a man whose behavior disturbingly echoed her mother's. The man she lived with alternately displayed a desperate need for her or rejected her as if she were worse than useless.
In this unique personal narrative, Fowler offers an eloquent look into the mind of a battered woman. Directly addressing her former abuser, she tells the story of their relationship and her gradual emergence from her own "self-loathing." A novelist with a poetic voice, Fowler (Remembering Blue) paints a rich, vivid portrait, by turns terrifying, haunting, gritty, dreamy and starkly rational. Snapshots of her evolving inner life flow into one another in an intimate montage. Heartbreakingly honest about the naive wishfulness that keeps her with a monstrous boyfriend, she writes, "When you tell me you'll turn me into a writer, that we'll pen movies together and live in Hollywood, my foolish hopefulness gushes like an opened vein." Her deep need to save this violent drunk stems from her past, when she nursed her abusive mother as she died a slow, ugly, alcoholic death. In the midst of Fowler's transition from childhood to her relationship with her abusers to her new, healthier existence, she agonizes, "Which person is the real me The young professional Or the cowed little girl who has become a battered woman " Ultimately, she completed her inner transformation and left the relationship, accompanied by her faithful dog Katie. Fowler's extraordinary memoir unlocks the secret inner worlds of battered women, codependents trying to love addicts and everyone who's overcome a traumatic past and healed herself through love. (Feb. 1) Forecast: Oprah Winfrey had a hand in the TV movie of Fowler's fictional account of domestic abuse, Before Women Had Wings. That distinction and a nine-city author tour will win her book sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from When Katie Wakes by Connie May Fowler
She is hiding under a blue tarpaulin. Her siblings, all tan and brown, run and hop, nipping at each other, uncaring whether I choose them or not. They have a good life. They live outside and have sticks to play with. If it rains, they seek shelter under the house. Shade is there, too. And so is Mama. Mama with all that milk. But she's drying up, and these long-boned, orange-grove Crackers know it. In fact, she doesn't look very healthy at all.
Skin and bones and skin and bones. Where do you run to when you're nothing but skin and bones!
"The paper said you had black Lab puppies."
He points at the tarpaulin. "She's over there."
I look at the lone black pup and then back at the Cracker with his sky-colored eyes and sunburned face. Two barefoot boys, maybe three and five, chase the pups and giggle wildly each time they bait one into a game of tug.
"Their daddy is a Lab. That there is the mama. She's a shepherd. We only got one black one."
He smiles, as if her rarity in this litter makes her extra special, and I wonder two things. In the classified ad, why did they credit only the father's bloodline? Especially since five of the six puppies bear no resemblance to their Labrador side. And why isn't the black puppy playing with her siblings? Is she sick? Hurt? An outcast based on color? Size? Temperament?
"Hey, sweetie," I say to her from across the yard.
I approach slowly and kneel beside her. "How are you, little bit?" I ask, trying to make my voice comforting, as though a gentle nature is something all humans possess.
A star-shaped patch of white gleams on her chest. Other than that, she is tip-to-toe black. I offer her my hand. She looks at me warily and then averts her gaze. I take her into my arms. At my touch, she tenses. I understand from both the cautious posture of her eyes and the rigid trembling of her body that this dog, just weeks old, knows about mistreatment. She begins to whimper. Low, baleful, constant.
"It's okay, baby, yes, everything is gonna be all right."
I hear the Cracker say, "Looks like a keeper to me!" and he laughs loudly. It's a laugh made fat with good-ol'-boy intentions.
"Has she seen a vet?" I can see from her distended belly that she's wormy.
"Nah. I thought I'd leave that up to whoever is lucky enough to take her home. Besides, seeings how we ain't got room for no more dogs, we're probably just gonna croakersack whichever ones are left past this weekend. Back in the creek, you know." He nods toward a slow-moving rivulet of brown water that flows at the edge of a cane-break, sucks his teeth, and then yells toward the house, "Gracie, get me a beer." He looks at me. Slow. Up and down. "You want one?"