Articles by Beverly Donofrio
Confessions of a Serial Memoirist
I am a serial memoirist - words I never imagined uttering or for that matter stringing together to describe any writer 25 years ago, back when I wrote my first book, Riding in Cars With Boys. I sold the book in 1988 on a five-page proposal, using my agent's advice: "Pretend you have five minutes to tell a garden party why in the world they should be interested in the story of your life."
Read Beverly’s article in The New York Times
I was raped at 55. Here is how I responded.
Angie Epifano, the woman who was raped last fall in an Amherst dorm room, reported that she could hear her friends having fun in the next room as she endured the ordeal. I mentioned this to a friend of mine recently, and she wondered why Angie hadn't banged on the wall or yelled for help. On the surface, my friend's question may seem legitimate, until you consider that it is less often asked about women who have been beaten or kidnapped, and almost never about women who have been robbed or mugged. Most consider it a sign of coolheaded intelligence for the victim of a mugging, for example, to peaceably hand over whatever the thief asks for, while keeping one's eyes averted like we're told to do when confronted by an aggressive dog. Practically the first thing you're taught in a course on how to respond to a rapist is that you should not fight or make a scene because you could end up dead.
Read the article in Slate.
Attacked By Evil, Healed By God
Six years ago, my faith was still fairly new to me, so when my heart flat-lined to zero, my days felt like a slog through mud, and God faded like fabric in the sun, I'd no idea that I might be enduring what St. John of the Cross called a Dark Night of the Soul. When an opportunity arose to visit a monastery for a few days, it felt like the hand of God; nuns observing ancient practices in a speeding world lit a fire in me to join them. I could turn every chore, thought, encounter into a sacred act, sing praises to God with my sisters, lift up the spirit, give my life purpose and meaning. Back home I searched the Internet for Benedictine and Carmelite communities like they were ships in the distance and I was on a life raft. This is precisely when, in the middle of the night, in the middle of middle age, I awoke to a rapist in my bed, "Don't scream. I have a knife," he said.
Read the article in the Huffington Post.
Looking for Stillness
Two winters ago the world turned flat and tuneless on me, and it made no sense. Home was a lively, supportive expat community in an old colonial town in Mexico. I soaked in hot springs, hiked, practiced tai chi, wrote during the day, and spent most of my nights with friends. There were dinners, concerts, readings, margaritas watching the sunset, but it had all gone gray.
Read about Beverly’s pilgrimage at Oprah.com
A few years ago, when I complained to my latest, greatest, and now past therapist that I didn’t want to go to some party I was invited to, I’d be bored, have nothing to say to people—whom I wouldn’t like and who wouldn’t like me—she pinned me with her penetrating gaze and said, “You're a shy person.”
Learn how Beverly overcame shyness at Oprah.com
The Rapist in My Bedroom…
I was raped one night last summer in Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I live. Water was gushing into [my neighbor’s] house from a construction site next door…I went upstairs, called the builder, then forgot to go back down and double lock the door.
Beverly tells us how she used this terrifying moment to strengthen—instead of lose—her faith at Oprah.com
I once attended an African–American Baptist church, where the service lasted two–and–half–hours, there was lots of singing and dancing–in–place, and enough spirit to lift you out of the clouds and make you sunny. The preacher said something I have always remembered, which is a cliché but it was the first time I’d heard it: “Turn those potholes to stepping stones.”
I grew up getting lost in the woods at the top of my road and hopping across the stream in the cow pasture at the bottom of it, but ever since the fifth grade, I longed to live in New York City. When I finally graduated college at twenty–eight, I packed my ten–year–old son along with everything I owned into a VW van and moved there. Frank Sinatra’s song “New York, New York” had just come out and I played it on every jukebox in every bar I sat in, dreaming dreams so big they needed a city of nine million to fit into. There seemed no place more glamorous, filled with art and artists; or more edgy, alive, dangerous, and therefore adventurous. In New York I would meet the greatest and the lowliest, the most accomplished and the most failed—many of whom would appear in the great literature I would write: the mark I would leave on the world. I might, oops, I would die one day, but what I had to say would live on forever between the covers my books.