"Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake"
Seal Press, December 2009
Sweet Charlotte’s Seventh Mistake, is a collection of essays, poetry, vintage images, art, and documents that tell of the complex relationship Crooks had with her dead, drug addict, con-artist mother. Throughout the memoir, Crooks comes to terms with her past as an abandoned child, and explains the losses of her 6 older siblings while discovering the true identity of her own biological father. All of these haunting elements combine to tell a multi-layered story about identity, grief, and the consequences of truth.
"With writing that is both poignant and wry, and visuals that elevate it from just another "dear diary" to fully realized cinema on paper, this summers editor's pick, Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake engages on all fronts. When Crooks' mother stays up all night sewing, we see her stitching on the page, circling perfectly around images of buttons and hems, then cutting wildly through envelopes and black-and-white photos. We see stitches of our own lives, sometimes straight but mostly jagged and blurry."
—Nina Lary, Curve Magazine, August 2011
"Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake is, in fact, one of the more unusual memoirs to come along. Not so much in the subject matter, but in the way that writer and artist Cori Crooks has chosen to present her story about her at-times monstrous mother and Crooks' own efforts to find out which of the two men in her mother's life in late 1968 is her father…What sets Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake apart is its method: a literal collage of images and text, including old snapshots, newspaper clippings, handwritten letters, even the official results of the DNA test. It could have easily seemed like a gimmick, but it's not. For one thing, Crooks' prose often has the economy, even the flow, of poetry so that every scene seems distilled to its essence.
—James Watts, Tulsa World , January 25, 2009
"Cori Crooks’ graphic memoir about her mom (a pill-popping stripper with an endless parade of loser boyfriends) and the unknown identity of her birth father is fashioned like a scrapbook filled with faded black-and-white photos, diary entries and handwritten letters on lined notebook paper. Her six older siblings (yes, that makes the author her mother’s seventh mistake) are scattered to live in foster homes or with various birth dads, and her mother fakes cancer twice before actually dying. It’s grim stuff, but the scrapbook treatment keeps it from getting too heavy while echoing the spotty, disjointed nature of memory."
—Suzanne Van Atten, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/15/09
"Cori Crooks offers a quirky mediation on her mother’s life and the search for her own paternity. Instead of a relating a straightforward narrative, Crooks assembles photos and letters, essays and memorabilia. Through them, she allows readers to glimpse a flawed, fascinating woman who had 15 names, seven husbands and seven children. The identity of Crooks’ biological father, which might seem straightforward, becomes even more subtle and complex."
—Mary Colurso, The Birmingham News, January 9, 2009
"With a beautiful and intense sense of intimacy Crooks' teenage angst voice tinged with the insecurity of a reminiscing adult takes the reader along for the ride as she shifts through her recollections of preconceived notions and allows us to share her sacred thoughts of the dead, as well as her fears of forgetting and being forgotten… This is compassionate voyeurism at its best. As Crooks unflinching exposes every one of her dark secrets for all to share, she searches not only for who her family is, but who she is as well. A truly inspiring and fresh approach to a tough coming of age story and must read for anyone, regardless of age."
—Patrick O'Neil , The Sylvan Echo, January 2009
…Sweet Charlotte’s Seventh Mistake, recently published by Seal Press, is far more than just a blog transplanted to the page; it’s a chronicle of family dysfunction that is to memoir what sculpture is to Play-Doh. Crooks has pieced together a pastiche from documents, family photos, poem fragments, letters and her own memory. “It’s really the anti-scrapbook,” Crooks says, revealing that the “Charlotte” of the title is Crooks’ mother and the “seventh mistake” is Crooks herself.
—Kel Munger, Sacramento News & Review, January 8, 2009
"A Gag Reflex"
Blogspot, Summer 2006
Cori Crooks first made heads turn with her art/life blog, A Gag Reflex beginning in 2004. She boldly documented a quest for the truth about her paternity and then aired the DNA test results online. Her offbeat prose quickly earned her local press, respect amongst top bloggers and published writers, a cult following of fans eager for more of her quirky story telling, and literary representation with Wendy Sherman Associates Inc., NYC.
"In A Gag Reflex, Cori Crooks retells her mother's fantastical stories, weaving them together with her own memories of her mother's outrageous behavior. The resulting narrative is an account of one complex woman's life, seen through the eyes of her daughter."
-Sacramento News and Review
"I can't read any of Cori's posts without imagining her story being translated to the silver screen and aired at Sundance to rapturous applause."
-Catherine Sanderson, Petite Anglaise
"This is not mere prose, it is prose that dances to a poet's song."
-Michele Agnew, Michele
"I started reading. It was light and bright outside. My children were playing about me and I had no idea what I was in for. I've finished all 80 pages plus links… and it is dark and foreboding now. The kids nap. It's quiet. I am alone. The feeling of tender sadness mixed with hope fills me up."
-Lauren Bove, Mindful Things