Deborah Copaken Kogan   Shutterbabe  
Deborah Copaken Kogan  
Reading by Deborah Copaken Kogan

Read an excerpt from Shutterbabe

  Shutterbabe, Adventures in Love and War is a memoir of a woman whose restless intelligence is powered into a post-collegiate defiance of any parent's assumption that moving out to the suburbs to give your kids green grass and sweet air is a gift to them and a sacrifice toward the American Dream. It ain't necessarily so.

In Deborah Copaken Kogan's experience, Dad-off-to-provide and Mom-home-to-make-sure plus the dull privilege of progressive schools conspired to make the author's home town an enemy territory of precocious longing.

Each chapter of Shutterbabe is titled with a hot zone of international and interpersonal conflict--a war zone and a guy. What is lacking in subtlety is made up for in lucid, and often harrowing, explication. Flashbacks occur with the same frequency they do in a spoken word account when your are getting to know someone well for the first time. Each description is similarly affecting: it deepens the story without breaking the enchantment of a personal window upon an experience that few would choose to know firsthand.

All the way through this adrenaline-soaked memoir, from suburban Maryland and the privileged environ of Harvard to rough-and-tumble Paris and Zurich; war-torn Afghanistan; devastated Romania; the Africa of poachers; girl gang's LA; and Yelstin's coup, there is evidence that covering a war zone is not so different or less dangerous than being a woman in a first world city, be it as gorgeous as Paris or as academic as Cambridge, MA.

I asked her why she dedicated this book to her young daughter and she said that, because of her formative experience, she could not imagine a world wherein a woman would not be attacked and she wanted her daughter to know that it was a part of life, not a prohibition of life.

Deborah Copaken Kogan has written about her experiences as a woman and a photojournalist with an immediacy that some have described as swaggering machismo. Anyone that believes she should have edited parts of her self should ask not why a woman would write "macho" but why not? It's hardly a well tread path. This is a telling, an expression of her journey and of herself.

In this issue of Bold Type, we present Deborah Copaken Kogan reading a selection from Shutterbabe, Adventures in Love and War and another excerpt, in text, from her provocative memoir.

--Catherine McWeeney
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  Photo credit: Lorin Klaris/Villard

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