Alex Difrancesco presents "Breaking the Curse: A Memoir about Trauma, Healing, and Italian Witchcraft" in conversation w/ Tyler Vile and Nic Anstett

Alex Difrancesco presents "Breaking the Curse: A Memoir about Trauma, Healing, and Italian Witchcraft" in conversation w/ Tyler Vile and Nic Anstett

Tuesday, June 18th 2024
7:00 pm
Red Emma's
A tour de force of narrative nonfiction, a reimagining of the self-help genre, and a brave memoir about mystical forces, trauma, trans life, and how we must heal ourselves to survive.

In Breaking the Curse, Alex DiFrancesco takes their own crushing experiences of assault, addiction, and transphobic violence as the starting point for a journey to self-reclamation. Reeling in the aftermath of a rape that played out as painfully in public as in private, DiFrancesco begins to pursue spirituality in earnest, searching for an ancestral connection to magic as a form of protection and pathway to transformation. Propelled by a knowledge of the spiritual role of the transgender person in society, Alex winds through Cleveland and Brooklyn and Philly—from rehab and pagan AA meetings and friends’ spare mattresses to tarot readers and books about Italian witchcraft to daily ritual, prayer, altar-making, and folk tradition. In so doing, they begin to not only piece together a way to heal but also call into existence a life that finally feels worth living.

Breaking the Curse weaves spells, blasphemous novenas, and personal memories to imagine a new memoir form. Speaking about trauma does not always take its power away, DiFrancesco reminds us, but one can write their truth so that the hurt no longer fills the whole horizon.

ALEX DIFRANCESCO is a multi-genre writer and transmasc person who is the author of Transmutation, All City, _and _Psychopomps. _Their work has appeared in _New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Tin House, Pacific Standard, Eater, Brevity, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and more. They are the recipient of grants and fellowships from PEN America, Sundress Academy for the Arts, and the winner of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2022.

Alex DiFrancesco's Transmutation: Stories (2021), a collection of short fiction about trans people in a mostly non-trans world, was lauded as “eclectic, absorbing” in the New York Times Book Review. Their novel All City (2019), a masterful envisioning of a near-future, underwater New York, was praised by Publishers Weekly as a "loving, grieving warning [that] thoughtfully traces the resilience, fragility, and joy of precarious communities in an immediate, compassionate voice." It was also a first awards finalist by a transgender author in over 80 years of the Ohioana Book Awards.

They formerly served as an assistant editor for Sundress Publications in Tennessee, and currently edit LGBTQIA+ non-fiction for Jessica Kingsley Publishers. DiFrancesco lives in Philadelphia and is the human companion of a middle-aged, ill-mannered Westie named Roxy Music, Dog of Doom.

Tyler Vile is the author of Never Coming Home (Topside Press, 2015), a novel-in-verse. Also a spoken word poet and a disability advocate, Vile is vocal about her experience as a transwoman with cerebral palsy, and her work has been featured online in Gadfly and Bluestockings Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Nic Anstett, a writer from Baltimore, MD, loves the bizarre, spectacular, and queer. She is a graduate from the University of Oregon’s MFA program and has attended workshops through the Clarion Foundation, Lambda Literary, and Tin House, where she was a 2021 scholar. Her fiction can be found in publications such as One Story, Witness Magazine, Passages North, and Lightspeed Magazine and has been nominated for anthologies like the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Nic has also written essays and articles for Autostraddle,, and them. She is currently at work on a collection of short stories and a novel.

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