Published by
Norton (2013-06)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language


A Memoir of My Father

by Abbott, Alysia

Fairyland is a portrait of a vanished scene, San Francisco’s vibrant, improvised 70’s, from a point of view available to few, that of the child of a man who was coming out then.

Alysia Abbott grew up the lone child of Steve Abbott, a beloved gay poet from San Francisco’s 1970’s literary community. Steve adored and doted upon his daughter, but he was a single dad in an era long before openly gay fathers were familiar to anyone, without much support.

As you will see, Alysia had a dream of another, more conventional, life, and for years she attempted to keep her father in the same closet from which he had liberated himself. It was around when she returned, during her college years, to San Francisco in order to take care of Steve that she began to “come out of the closet.” By then, he was dying of AIDS. Alysia writes with the love, the regret, and the acute vision, of the daughter that she is. Fairyland reconstructs her father’s life, and revisits a relationship that remains dynamic, thanks partly to her continuing discovery of his work. It is an intelligent and moving portrait of a world, and a life, that have disappeared: a fine tribute from this daughter to this poet and father. His poems and journals were filled with her, and now she is returning the devotion.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

Available View on Rightsdesk


At once a father-daughter love story, a testament to survival, a meditation on profound loss, and a searing chronicle of a complex coming of age, Fairyland is a beautiful, haunting book that instructs, even as it breaks our hearts.

Quote: Dani Shapiro

American Zoetrope has acquired screen rights to Alysia Abbott’s Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, with Sofia Coppola set to adapt it with Andrew Durham. She will produce with Roman Coppola.

Quote: Deadline

...affecting and open-hearted... As well as telling the story of a gay man struggling to bring up a child with limited funds and in the face of moral opposition, Fairyland is also the tale of a young girl who says that she always felt "right side up with Dad" but upside down in the wider world, and who strove to keep her father's sexuality a secret into her adulthood.

Review: The Independent, UK

Author's article: 'Dad's sexuality was a secret I held on to': Alysia Abbott describes life with her father as he lived with Aids

Quote: Mail Online

Colored with quirky, picturesque details of Bay Area counter culture, including its famous cafes, personalities, and periodicals, Abbott's narrative balances idiosyncratic flourishes with universal emotions of anger, resentment, jealousy, and guilt.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Abbott offers unforgettable glimpses into a community that has since left an indelible mark on both the literary and social histories of one of America’s most colorful cities. A sympathetic and deeply moving story.

Review: Kirkus

Alysia Abbott was brought up as the only daughter of a single gay father, the poet Steve Abbott. Fairyland is a vivid, sensitively written account of a complex but always loving relationship, which ended up with the adult daughter taking care of her father as he died from AIDS. This is not only a painfully honest autobiography but also a tribute to old-fashioned bohemian values in a world that is increasingly conformist and materialistic. I couldn't put it down!

Quote: Edmund White

Observe without judging,’ Alysia Abbott's father told her in college when she was having problems with a friend. This is good advice for writing, too, and Abbott has taken it to heart. She has given us a clear-eyed and luminous account of growing up with her gay Buddhist poet dad in San Francisco in the 1970s and '80s, from the intricacies of café culture and the Language poetry scene, to the carnage of AIDS. Generous, precise, and deeply moving, Fairyland is a love story that not only brings a new generational perspective to a history we're in danger of forgetting but irrevocably shifts the way we think about family itself.

Quote: Alison Bechdel

In Alysia Abbott’s gorgeous account of her 1980s San Francisco childhood, a whimsical gay poet becomes an intelligent father, his motherless daughter a forceful and articulate young woman, and a rich, dizzy fairyland is shuttered by a plague. As a chronicle of the moment when the San Francisco of Armistad Maupin became the city of Harvey Milk, when gay and experimental poetry flourished in California, Fairyland is vivid and indelible. As the portrait of a conspiracy of love between a father and a daughter, it is heartrending, a brilliant addition to the literature of American memoir.

Quote: Honor Moore

As a personal story and as a portrayal of an era, Fairyland is powerful, loving, authentic, and contains Steve's artistic legacy in its lyricism. It acknowledges Steve's impact on Alysia--and both their shortcomings--with gratitude and grace.

Quote: Julia Jenkins

Fairyland is written in shiningly clear, precise prose that gives it literary as well as testimonial distinction.

Review: Booklist (starred)

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