Nickels A Tale of Dissociation by Christine Stark

Nickels Book Cover


Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation

By Christine Stark

with an introduction by Anya Achtenberg

Nickels follows a biracial girl named Little Miss So and So from age 4 into adulthood. Told in a series of prose poems, Nickels’ lyrical and inventive language conveys the dissociative states born of a world formed by persistent and brutal incest and homophobia. The dissociative states enable the child’s survival and, ultimately, the adult’s healing. The story is both heartbreaking and triumphant. Nickels is the groundbreaking debut of Minneapolis-area author and artist Christine Stark.


“Christine Stark has crafted a language and a diction commensurate with the shredding of consciousness that is a consequence of childhood sexual abuse. She brings a wholly original voice in a riveting novel of desperation and love. Nickels is narrated by Miss So and So, as her mother names her, from age 4 to 26, a character so compelling I never wanted to stop hearing from her. She names herself crazy girl, but the reader sees a different truth: there’s humor and cunning and ferocious love alive in those who survive. Stark enables the reader to inhabit the intricacy and chaos of this potent inner landscape, and we have not seen this before. Every sentence vibrates with a terrible beauty. Every sentence brings the news.

—Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery

“To be taken into the mind of a child can be an enchanting adventure, but to be taken into the mind of a child who is abused, confused, and taken for granted is a lingering, livid journey. I applaud her fortitude to bring an olden—too long ignored—truth out of the darkness with blazing, innovative light.”

—MariJo Moore, author of The Diamond Doorknob

“In Nickels, Christine Stark powerfully portrays the story of abuse and its impact on our lives. This beautifully written and compelling story leaves you wanting more. It’s riveting; a book that will capture you from the beginning and carry you through to the end. Everyone should read this book.”

—Olga Trujillo, author of The Sum of My Parts

“…These brilliantly written pieces stimulated the board into a lively discussion of language, point of view, and politics, and resulted in a resounding `yes’ from everyone on the importance of using these two pieces together, as point-counterpoint on the themes of violence against women and the nuanced and challenging process of surviving that violence.”

–Minnie Bruce Pratt, Creative Writing Editor for the Feminist Studies Editorial Board

“Take a dark journey with Christine Stark, deep into the dungeon that is incest. Follow crazy girl as she fights for her dignity and sense of self-worth. Then cheer when she finally finds the strength to say: `I know my name now and you do not frighten me.’”

—Julian Sher, author of Somebody’s Daughter: The Hidden Story of America’s Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them

“The judging panel believes Christine Stark’s work is both art and metaphor. She creates story and mood using a stream of consciousness style. The writing is rhythmic, and lyrical with conscious and authoritative use of various techniques such as repetition. In Christine’s story, the perpetrator behaves as if his act, and assault, is one of mundane evil. This story alludes to the reality of society’s marginalized—vulnerable to everyday evils—mundane for some, not so for others. The panel applauds Christine’s writing talents, her willingness to take a risk by composing a raw, provocative piece designed to invite us to consider the nature of mundane evil from several unexpected points of view.

–Sandra Lloyd, The Pearls Writing Group

For more information:


  1. I was diagnosed with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) when I was in Art School. My Art History teacher took me to the psychiatrist along with my art and I was dxed on the spot for being a “multi” with MPD/DID… DID certainly sounds better as some people think having a multiple personality is like having an “alter” that is an axe murderer or something equally gross. This is NOT the case at all. We got this disorder from a screwed up childhood. This was our one and only way to “cope”…
    Rosanne gave me the strength to “come out” of the closet as a multiple while I was in Art School and all eyes were on me. I thought if Rosanne can “come out” with DID in Hollywood then I certainly can “come out” in Dallas, Texas! Thank you Rosanne! you will never know how much you have helped me to help myself, accept myself, love myself and above all NOT buy into any shame attached with this rare diagnosis.