Darkroom: A Family Exposure is Jill Christman's gripping, funny, and wise account of her first thirty years. Although her story runs the gamut of dramatic life events, including childhood sexual abuse, accidental death, and psychological trauma, Christman's poignant memoir is much more than a litany of horrors; instead, it is an open-eyed, wide-hearted, and good-humored look at a life worth surviving.
Through a shifting narrative of text and photographs, Christman explores the intersection of image and memory and considers the ways photographs force us to rework our original memories. Darkroom is a page-turning and disturbing journey that begins with an older brother's near fatal burning and progresses through a counterculture childhood in which her free-spirited mother moves the family to an isolated mountaintop. The story advances into an adolescence of eating disorders and barely remembered sex, slams into a young adulthood of love, literature, drugs, death, and therapists, and ends soon after a beloved uncle bleeds to death in a federal prison while serving a ten-year sentence for growing marijuana.
Never sentimental, Jill Christman is brutally honest and surprisingly funny. She deftly blends narrative, quoted materials, her uncle's letters, and her father's photography to create a family saga that is both heartbreaking and exhilarating.