Domenica Ruta reads from With or Without You: A Memoir (Spiegel & Grau, 2013)

Domenica Ruta’s With or Without You is a lyrical memoir about a chaotic childhood in a working-class town, the power—and sometimes stranglehold—of a mother-daughter relationship, the painful realities of poverty and addiction, and an exceptional individual surviving deep traumas. A finalist for the Keene Prize for Literature and a recipient of residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, Ruta has penned here a love letter to her mother—to both the woman who scraped together money to send her to French lessons and painting classes and the one who spent her welfare money on cocaine. This book is an unconventional coming-of-age story and a sharply observed chronicle of one woman’s redemption from her past.

“Freakishly brilliant, brilliantly freakish, this is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Domenica Ruta has done something every artist with a failed family must do. She has created herself.”

 —Gary Shteyngart