Candid essays on personal and cultural American nostalgia, focusing on the author's working-class, Rust Belt family history.
What does it mean to be nostalgic for the American past? The feeling has been co-opted by the far right ("Make America Great Again," after all, is a plea for the past), and associated with violent periods of our country's history when white supremacy was even more dominant than today. Can a liberal white woman still be sentimental about her childhood, her European immigrant family history, her working-class upbringing?
In Dreadful Sorry, Jennifer Niesslein explores her "nostalgia problem" with grace and curiosity. The essays recount her thoughts upon rewatching Little Women with her sisters and mother, her hand-to-mouth childhood, the effect being "not the right kind of white" had on her Polish immigrant ancestors in the U.S, and her family's own racism. Niesslein weaves together personal and structural questions of class, whiteness, history, and family with humor and charisma.
A book for anyone who wants to think about their relationship to their childhood, family history, and place.