Dog Flowers is WGBH’s Bookmarked: The Under the Radar Book Club’s April selection for 2021. Danielle spoke with host Callie Crossley about the process of writing the book and why she chose not to fictionalize her family’s struggles with addiction.
Danielle was interviewed by Jessica Douglass for High Country News about her memoir Dog Flowers.
HCN: Are there any particular passages in Dog Flowers that you are most proud of?
DG: There is a passage on this idea of “ghost sickness” that when I first wrote it, I was like, this is it — this is key to how I am thinking about my relationship with my mother’s belongings, with this history and her death. What I say in that section is that I’m not writing about grief, I’m not writing about losing my mother or those feelings of grief, because I don’t think this book really offers you a path through that.
Instead, I’m writing about (how) I feel possessed. I feel haunted by her life as much as her death, and the things that I wanted from that relationship that I didn’t get. I felt most proud when I emerged from the writing of that passage, because I was articulating early on what I was setting out to do.
Summary: A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to confront her family’s history and retrace her mother’s life—using both narrative and archive in this arrestingly original memoir.
After Danielle Geller’s mother dies of a withdrawal from alcohol during a period of homelessness, she is forced to return to Florida. Using her training as a librarian and archivist, Geller collects her mother’s documents, diaries, and photographs into a single suitcase and begins on a journey of confronting her family’s history and the decisions she’s been forced to make, a journey that will end at her mother’s home: the Navajo reservation.