The Girls of Usually

Lori Horvitz


Gold Medal Winner 2016 IPPY Book Award in Autobiography/Memoir II

Winner: 2015 USA Best Book Award in Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction

Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist: Autobiography & Memoir (Adult Nonfiction)

Finalist: Saints & Sinners Emerging Writer Award

Honorable Mention: 2015 Rainbow Awards

Lori Horvitz grew up ashamed of her Eastern European Jewish roots, confused about her sexuality, and idolizing the “shiksa in her living room,” a blonde all-American girl whose photo came in a double frame and was displayed next to a family photo from a bar mitzvah.

Lori Horvitz explains her title choice

Interview with WUNC

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Lori Horvitz grew up ashamed of her Eastern European Jewish roots, confused about her sexuality, and idolizing the “shiksa in her living room,” a blonde all-American girl whose photo came in a double frame and was displayed next to a family photo from a bar mitzvah. Unable to join the “happy blonde families,” she becomes a “hippie chick” who travels the world in search of … something. The Girls of Usually chronicles each trip, each romance, each experiment in reinventing herself that draws her closer to discovering the secret door through which she can escape from deep-rooted patterns and accept her own cultural, ethnic, and sexual identity.

Reading Lori Horvitz’s Girls of Usually feels like calling up an old friend and talking late into the night. Deeply intimate and wickedly funny, these are essays to be treasured.

—Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana

Horvitz writes with a fine balance of wit and poignancy, deftly delivering her stories in a way that feels both personal and universal. The Girls of Usually is a read that stays with you—unsettling, complicated, and wholly rewarding.

—Artis Henderson, author of Unremarried Widow

These smart, witty, and heartbreaking essays are pure magic and Lori Horvitz is, truly, a magician of the form.

—Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of Dandarians

When I first heard Lori Horvitz read some of her memoir essays, I laughed so hard my jeans burst open at the waist. The Girls of Usually may be like nothing you’ve ever read. But as in all the very finest writing, you’ll see yourself—and maybe find yourself.

—Lynda Schor, author of
Sexual Harassment Rules


1. The Magician
2. Shiksa in My Living Room
3. Chickens of Suburbia
4. Sham Poodle Dreams
5. A Tourist, Of Sorts
6. My Life as a Hippie Chick
7. Deathbed Pearls
8. My People
9. A Hushed Blue Underworld
10. Little Pink Hatchling
11. Slow Train to the Forbidden City
12. New York: 1986–­1989
13. Women of Pompeii
14. The Weight of Stuff
15. A Certain Shade of Blue
16. The Last Days of Disco Donut
17. Mongrels of Salamanca
18. Feminist Christmas Tree Farm
19. The Girls of Usually
20. The Lost Language of Lox
21. Death and Furniture
22. Transitions
23. Slim-­Fast Vacation
24. Unloading Bones
25. Father’s Advice
26. The Golden Cord
27. Into the Arms of Strangers
28. Fahrenheit or Celsius: Long Distance Love in Degrees
29. OpenWide66
30. Dating My Mother
31. The Big Smoke
32. The Woman Who Owned a Place in Flannery O’Connor’s Hometown
About the Author


Lori Horvitz’s writing has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Hotel Amerika, and Chattahoochee Review.  She has been awarded writing fellowships from Yaddo, Ragdale, Cottages at Hedgebrook, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Blue Mountain Center. A professor of literature and language at UNC Asheville, Horvitz also directs the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.  She received a PhD in English from SUNY at Albany and an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College.

Visit Lori's website at



Melanie Page's interview with Lori Horvitz, March 2015.

Caroline Leavitt: "Lori Horvitz talks about The Girls of Usually, outsiders, memory, and so much more"

Joanne O'Sullivan's article about Lori Horvitz: Asheville's Lori Horvitz reads from 'Girls of Usually'

As a single woman, Horvitz resists the cultural insistence to partner, one that, to her, stems from a place of insecurity and fear. At its core, The Girls of Usually is a book about transforming that fear into something more honest and true, stepping outside defined boundaries; this book is a roadmap pointing toward a more positive image of self. The result of is strength, power.

—Erica TraboldPank, October 2015

And as a storyteller, Horvitz is a matzo ball of fire..So pour yourself a glass of grape juice and propose a toast to The Girls of Usually.

—Allison Fradkin, Curve, May 2015

Disconnection, alienation, secret and thwarted desire thread through these pieces, along with Horvitz’s shame about her lesbianism and Jewish origins. The wriggling away from these twin shames is powerfully documented. Horvitz seems comfortable only in hindsight, yet she stays a steady narrator, guided by fear yet still managing adventure.

Liz Baudler, Newcity Lit, March 6, 2015

Raw and stirring, late teens, twenty-somethings, and older will appreciate the wisdom Horvitz shares about relationships, both physical and emotional, as she travels the world.

Pallas Gates McCorquodale, Foreword Reviews,
Spring 2015

Featured in The Laurel of Asheville, March 2015

When I say Horvitz is funny, I don’t just mean she is witty or playful with words or cleverly amusing (though she is those things, too). I mean she is David Sedaris-level funny, especially when she writes about her early youth.

—Sharon Harrigan, The Nervous Breakdown,
February 2015

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