POSTMORTEM by Laurel Saville

By SMW Staff

Sadly, some lives cannot be understood until after death. So it was with Anne Ford. A successful, charming beauty queen, model, and fashion designer during the 1950s, this glamour girl about town was poisoned by internal demons and the permissive Southern California culture of the 1960s and 70s. She ended her life as an alcoholic street person, stabbed and strangled in a burned-out building in West Hollywood. Years later, her daughter, the writer Laurel Saville, began the long process of unraveling the twin trajectories of this unusual life.

Postmortem takes the reader on an emotionally charged journey that ranges from Saville’s eccentric West Hollywood childhood, to a top-secret, Depression-era airplane design. Whether describing the artists of the seminal Sunset Strip gallery where Andy Warhol got his start or the hippie parties at the legendary Barney’s Beanery, Saville’s distinctive prose lends insight into the events and emotions that surrounded the life and death of stunning Anne Ford. This candid exploration of one woman’s life and death ends up exposing unexpected truths about both mother and daughter and unscrambling the many webs that entangled Ford’s exceptional life.

About Laurel Saville

Laurel Saville’s fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in The Bennington Review, House Beautiful, Room, and many other publications. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She lives and writes in the Mohawk River valley of upstate New York.

An excerpt of POSTMORTEM



The word always gets repeated. Sometimes the whole sentence.

“Your mother was murdered?” As if I could get something like that wrong. As if I could

be mistaken.

My mother was murdered.

No matter how many times I say this, no matter how many people I tell, the strangeness of this sentence never changes. My tongue feels thick around the words, even though, after years of practice, they come out smoothly. I try not to watch the person who hears this piece of unexpected news. But I do. I look for the freshness of their surprise, for the way their eyes flicker, their mouth tightens. I watch and wonder what they’re thinking, of me and of who my mother was or might have been.