November 14, 2023

NIGHT MOTHER, a new book by Marly Williams (BA ’14)

The LC English Department is excited to learn that Marly Williams (BA ’14) recently published an essay collection entitled Night Mother: A Personal and Cultural History of the Exorcist (Ohio State University Press, Oct. 2023)

The book explores the legacy of the 1973 horror classic film The Exorcist and its impact on her life as well as on American culture. The book has garnered positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Inside Higher Ed, and others. You can learn more about Marly and her book on her website or by listening to her interviews with OPB, Boise State Radio, and the Los Angeles Review of Books

Book Description

Never watch The Exorcist, Marlena Williams’s mother told her, just as she’d been told by her own mother as a Catholic teen in rural Oregon when the horror classic premiered. And like her mother, Mary, Williams watched it anyway. An inheritance passed from mother to daughter, The Exorcist looms large-in popular culture and in Williams’s own life, years after Mary’s illness and death. In Night Mother, Williams investigates the film not only as a projection of Americans’ worst fears in the tumultuous 1970s and a source of enduring tropes around girlhood, faith, and transgression but also as a key to understanding her mother and the world she came from.

The essays in Night Mother delve beneath the surface of The Exorcist to reveal the deeper stories the film tells about faith, family, illness, anger, guilt, desire, and death. Whether tracing the career of its young star, Linda Blair, unpacking its most infamous scenes, exploring its problematic depictions of gender and race, or reflecting on the horror of growing up female in America, Williams deftly blends bold personal narrative with shrewd cultural criticism. Night Mother offers fresh insights for both fans of the film and newcomers alike.