By: Allison Francis—
Radical queer activist and author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is currently wrapping up a tour in support of her new memoir, The End of San Francisco. The memoir covers Sycamore’s experiences in SF, Boston, Washington DC, and other cities she’s passed through – stories about sexual assault, addiction, homelessness, self-discovery as a radical activist, and more. Sycamore’s December 11th appearance at the Harvard Book Store is the last stop on her tour.
Sycamore is known for challenging mainstream gay culture, and spoke to The Media about the importance of challenging communities we are a part of to do better:
“What really hurts is when the people we believe in let us down. We’re never going to get anywhere toward these beautiful ideas – ideas of accountability and mutuality and creating relationships through desire and desire through relationships – unless we can talk about the places where we fail.”
The End of San Francisco breaks apart the conventions of memoir to reveal the passions and perils of a life that refuses to conform to the rules of straight or gay normalcy. A budding queer activist escapes to San Francisco, in search of a world more politically charged, sexually saturated, and ethically consistent—this is the person who evolves into Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, infamous radical queer troublemaker, organizer and agitator, community builder, and anti-assimilationist commentator. Here is the tender, provocative, and exuberant story of the formation of one of the contemporary queer movement’s most savvy and outrageous writers and spokespersons.
Sycamore deliberately structured The End of San Francisco unconventionally, moving kaleidoscopically between past, present, and future. Sycamore says the reason for this structure is because “most memoirs take the most challenging, creative, dissonant, messy, explosive lives and turn them into laminated timelines, like passive products for an unquestioning audience… I wanted to preserve the intimacy of feeling things as they happen in the moment.”
Sycamore conjures the untidy push and pull of memory, exposing the tensions between idealism and critical engagement, trauma and self-actualization, inspiration and loss. Part memoir, part social history, and part elegy, The End of San Francisco explores and explodes the dream of a radical queer community and the mythical city that was supposed to nurture it.
Don’t miss Sycamore’s December 11th The End of San Francisco reading at the Harvard Book Store. 7:00 p.m., free.
[From a News Release]