After her mother's unsolved murder, Kelly Grey Carlisle was raised on a boat in the LA Harbor by her grandfather, an ersatz Hollywood scriptwriter and a genuine dealer of pornography. In her twenties and thirties, she went on a quest to learn more about her mother's life and death, a journey that took her to the LAPD's Cold Case Homicide Department, family she never knew, and a motel room long ago. Her essays appear in Salon, The Sun, New England Review, and Ploughshares, among others, and have been shortlisted for Best American Essays. She teaches creative nonfiction at Trinity University in San Antonio, where she lives a mostly normal life with her husband and children.
About We Are All Shipwrecks:
A mother's murder. Her daughter's redemption. And the complicated past that belongs to them both.
Kelly always knew that her family was different. She knew that most children didn't live with their grandparents, and their grandparents didn't own porn stores. Her classmates didn't sleep on a boat in the marina and she knew their next-door neighbors weren't drug addicts and johns. What Kelly didn't know was if she would become part of the dysfunction that surrounded her. Would she sink into the depths of harbor life? Or would she end up alone and dead on Hollywood Boulevard like her mother had years before?
When the grittier aspects of her family history are unearthed, Kelly decides to discover how the place she was raised will define the person she will soon become. To do this, Kelly goes back to the beginning, to a mother she never knew, a twenty-five year old cold case, and two of LA's most notorious murderers.
We Are All Shipwrecks is Kelly's story of redemption from tragedy, told with a tenderness towards her family that makes it as much about breaking free as it is preserving the strings that anchor you.