Give sorrow Words:
Maryse Holder's Letters From Mexico


A compelling document...
her words are her legacy, her testament, her vindication.

The New York Times Book Review

One woman’s shocking descent into a provocative world of lust and danger. As Maryse Holder’s letters explore the last, eventful months in her life, they speak directly to the reader—forcing us to confront the pain, and even sometimes the passion, of living on the very edge of life, to the end.

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In 1976, Maryse Holder traveled to Mexico to pursue a life of sexual exploration.

MH in Ithaca

She wrote a series of letters describing her experiences, expressing a desire to "wring a masterpiece from my life.” Following Holder's brutal murder in Mexico at the age of 36, these letters became the basis for the book Give Sorrow Words: Maryse Holder's Letters from Mexico.

Published in 1979 by Grove Press, it was praised by The New York Times Book Review (“A compelling document... the letters are her legacy, her testament, her vindication”,) The Kirkus Review ( “Brilliant… powerful”) and her writing compared to Genet, Jean Rhys and Henry Miller in it's sexual candor and artistry.

In 2013, Edith Jones, the woman to whom Maryse Holder wrote those letters, is re-issuing Give Sorrow Words in a new ebook edition. This long-forgotten masterpiece of feminist sexuality is timelier than ever, foreshadowing the blunt talk about a women’s erotic life embodied by Lena Dunham and others.


Praise for Give Sorrow Words

“A compelling document... the letters are her legacy, her testament, her vindication.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant . . . . Her descent, cloacal and self-destructive, was an examination—more Genet than Jong. She recorded everything, held nothing back, seemed to be her own guardian angel floating above her as she went at the wellsprings of desire. A powerful, disordering book.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Dear Edith, This is ________, writing with a belated thanks for the incredible book you sent me. I was deeply affected by the text. It inspires me, cinematically and beyond. I am pondering ways it could be seen again, and more fully. I love the idea of a TV series but am not the woman to do it, considering my current obligations--I will, of course, share the book with whoever will listen.”
Sent to Edith Jones by somewhat heavy, young, female cultural icon. Guess who!

“A series....Yes, definitely a series,”
Marvin Braverman, Hollywood writer and playwright

“A SISTER, AN ADVENTURESS, A MADWOMAN. Daring as an early Henry Miller, self-destructive as Janis, the voice of Genet in a woman, speaking the purest American. Maryse’s is the most authentic voice, in sheer language, that I have heard off a page since the new consciousness hit women.
From the Introduction by Kate Millett


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Give Sorrow Words

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