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Patricia Grayhall debuts med school memoir

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Image courtesy of She Writes Press  

In time for LGBTQ History Month, Patricia Grayhall released her debut memoir, Making the Rounds: Defying Norms in Love and Medicine, on Monday last week, bestowing to the world an intimate and brutally honest look into her struggles as a woman and a Lesbian attending college in Arizona and medical school in Utah in the 1960s.

Already the book has received a starred Kirkus review, a rare and prized accolade in the industry.

In the months to come, Grayhall will be presenting at events from coast to coast, starting with an in-person reading on October 14, at 12 noon at the Barnes & Noble at Bellevue's Crossroads Shopping Center.

A month later, on November 10, at 7 p.m. EST, she will hold a virtual live reading and Q&A in New York, at the Bureau of General Services—Queer Division. One of her dear friends from college, who goes by David in the book, will be in attendance.

Then, in Corte Madera, California, on November 15, Grayhall and other authors published by She Writes Press will gather for "The Thrill of Life's Next Chapter," a "playful, lively hour of storytelling" featuring three other women who have thrived in spite of the obstacles in their pasts.

The date for Grayhall's book signing in San Francisco has yet to be determined.

Photo courtesy of the author  

"This has been an interesting experience, because I've never had to market a book," said Grayhall over Zoom, speaking about these events and other interviews. The bulk of her writing experience has been articles for medical journals, written over the course of a lengthy career in the field; unlike memoir and fiction, academic papers rarely demand a tour.

"I'm a 72-year-old-woman, and I have to read these passages from my, you know, hyper-hormonal 25-year-old self," she said, laughing. "It's so weird."

But consistent journaling and letter writing, the latter of which she called a "lost art," may have primed her for the more extensive project of Making the Rounds. She lived the majority of her life before email was popular, toward the end of the reign of the typewriter.

"My grandfather, even though he was a very educated man, left the education of my mother to my grandmother, who for various reasons — you know, she had an addiction — was constantly pulling my mother out of school," Grayhall recalled. "And I don't know if she even finished high school, and yet she had this amazing ability to write."

"Somehow, she imparted that to me," Grayhall added, "because I've always been able to write, even when I've been doing scientific, medical stuff."

Grayhall's pen name combines the maiden names of her grandmothers, "to honor them," she said. "I had two grandmothers who were extraordinarily intelligent, but whose ambitions were thwarted by the fact that they were born in the late 1800s and were women."

Photo courtesy of the author  

Of course, a memoir can be hard to write from raw memory alone. Grayhall kept her journals and letters, and they were the spark that lit the fire.

"I had this box in my closet, and it was full of letters and journals from the late 1960s and early 1970s," she recalled, "when I was coming out as a Lesbian, a woman training to be a doctor.

"I took them out, and all these memories came flooding back, and I thought, you know, 'This is history.' And as Lesbians, we have been subjected to multiple systems of oppression, and yet we thrive. We have developed new ways of relating to each other, we challenge oppressive paradigms, and yet we continue to thrive despite no support from mainstream society."

"I realized that my personal narrative — you know, although it's unique and everything — it revealed universal truths that are especially relevant now, with what's going on," she added, likely referring to the surge in anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ laws in Republican-led states.

As for future works, Grayhall and her partner will be releasing a collaborative, more "realistic" Lesbian romance novel, featuring two older women rather than the usual young, athletic protagonists. It was recently picked up by Wild Rose Press.

To learn more about Patricia Grayhall and Making the Rounds, and sign up for her upcoming events, visit https://www.patriciagrayhall.com/.