book | Non-Fiction | Feb 2015
Alan Lightman’s grandfather M.A. Lightman was the family’s undisputed patriarch: it was his movie theater empire that catapulted the family to prominence in the South; his fearless success that both galvanized and paralyzed his descendants, haunting them for a half century after his death. In this lyrical and impressionistic memoir, Lightman writes about returning to Memphis in an attempt to understand the people he so eagerly left behind forty years earlier. As aging uncles and aunts begin telling family stories, Lightman rediscovers his southern roots and slowly realizes the errors in his perceptions of his grandfather and of his own father, who had been crushed by M.A. Here is a family saga set against a throbbing century of Memphis - the rhythm and blues, the barbecue and pecan pie, and the segregated society - that includes personal encounters with Elvis, Martin Luther King, Jr., and E. H. “Boss” Crump. At the heart of it all is a family haunted by the ghost of the domineering M.A., and the struggle of the author to understand his conflicted loyalties to his father and grandfather.
'Lightman’s utterly transfixing screening of soulful and funny family memories projects a quintessentially American tale.' - Booklist Starred Review
Sophie Baker manages the translation rights for Screening Room
Kirkus Reviews Starred Review Full Review
Booklist Starred Review Full Review
episodic prose that shimmers with cinematic quality
Bookpage Full Review
The story of Alan Lightman's return to his roots in Memphis, Tenn., is both tender and frank in its depiction of the magnetic pull of family.
ShelfAwareness Full Review
Alan Lightman’s very personal time travel
Louisville Eccentirc Observer Full Review
Sure, it’s a white man’s story and it’s a Jew’s story. But transcending both of those narratives, it’s a Southerner’s story. Everyone in Dixie’s little matrix of identity will find nothing but page after page of aching familiarity here.Jack Hitt
The Washington Post
Screening Room recounts significant episodes of Memphis, family and personal history, but uses composite characters to represent Southern attitudes. It touches on the cosmic, speculative issues that motivate the author’s fiction.John Beifuss
The Commercial Appeal Memphis
Lightman's memories flicker like the light from an old movie projector he meticulously describes in one of the book's many artfully constructed scenes. Like his incomparable novel Einstein's Dreams, this memoir is, at its core, a tender meditation on the passage of time.
Shelf Awareness Full Review
The power of Lightman’s work lies in his ability to ground the reader, whether he is making accessible an esoteric field or subject, or defusing the heated rhetoric around some emotionally charged topic with intellect and reason.Julien Crockett
Los Angeles Review of Books