White Magic: Book summary and reviews of White Magic by Elissa Washuta

White Magic

by Elissa Washuta

White Magic by Elissa Washuta X
White Magic by Elissa Washuta
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Book Summary

Bracingly honest and powerfully affecting, White Magic establishes Elissa Washuta as one of our best living essayists.

Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, "starter witch kits" of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning.

In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life―Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham―to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A fascinating magic trick of a memoir that illuminates a woman's search for meaning." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Washuta recounts her struggles with sobriety, relationships, and the 'tyrannical rule' of PTSD in her life...Fans of the personal essay are in for a treat." - Publishers Weekly

"Powerful...Washuta's essays refuse the mandate of a tidy resolution. Instead she circles around each subject, inspecting it as symbol, myth, metaphor, and reality, all while allowing her readers space to draw their own conclusions, or to reject the need for any conclusion at all. Like a stage magician, she asks readers to look again. White Magic is an insightful, surprising, and eloquent record of stories of magic and the magic in stories." - Booklist

"Washuta's story and struggles become a metaphor for the toll of colonialism on generations of Indigenous people like herself. Readers of recovery narratives, women's issues, and keenly observed social commentary will be rewarded here." - Library Journal

"[White Magic] is unlike any other book out there and will certainly launch Washuta's meteoric rise." - BookPage

"In this incantatory, impassioned book of essays, Elissa Washuta offers readers a glimpse into a world of magic and spirituality...Washuta's essays interlace themes of inheritance, loss, colonialism, identity, and ownership to beautiful, heart-aching effect in this, yes, wholly magical look at learning how to recognize the power that rests within you." - Refinery29

"Washuta's frank confrontations with, and acknowledgments of, unhealed wounds are validating...evoking the sense of peeling open a letter from an estranged friend. A poignant work by a rising essayist." - Foreword Reviews

"White magic, red magic, Stevie Nicks magic―this is Elissa Washuta magic, which is a spell carved from a life, written in blood, and sealed in an honesty I can hardly fathom." - Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians

"White Magic is funny and wry, it's thought-provoking and tender. It's a sleight of hand performed by a true master of the craft. White Magic is magnificent and Elissa Washuta is spellbinding. There is no one else like her." - Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things

This information about White Magic shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She is the author of Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University.

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