Screening Room

Paperback $16.00

Feb 23, 2016 | 272 Pages

Hardcover $25.95

Feb 10, 2015 | 272 Pages

Ebook $12.99

Feb 10, 2015 | 240 Pages

  • Paperback $16.00

    Feb 23, 2016 | 272 Pages

  • Hardcover $25.95

    Feb 10, 2015 | 272 Pages

  • Ebook $12.99

    Feb 10, 2015 | 240 Pages


Dale Singer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Labeled a memoir, Screening Room features the usual graceful prose and style of Lightman as he recalls the Memphis of his youth and compares it to the city in modern times as he returns for a family funeral. The stories he tells and characters he describes paint a vivid portrait of his family’s life and times, centered around the patriarch, his grandfather M.A. Lightman.” 

John Beifuss, The Commercial Appeal
“With a title obviously inspired by the Lightman family business, Screening Room is Lightman’s 12th book but first memoir. Despite its autobiographical inspiration, this remembrance of Memphis past is not far removed from the literary spirit of Lightman’s novels… [It] recounts significant episodes of Memphis, family and personal history, but uses composite characters to represent Southern attitudes. It touches on the cosmic, speculative issues that motivate the author’s fiction.”

Keith Ryan Cartwright, The Tennessean
“While Screening Room touches on elements of life in the South as well as the Lightman family business — movie theaters — the real emotional struggle lies in the haunting memories of his domineering grandfather M.A. Lightman and the impact he had on Alan Lightman’s relationship with his own father.”

Elaine Margolin, Jewish Journal
“The Lightman’s family’s rise to prominence is an exceptional one; a Jewish tale of resilience and daring and imagination.”

Washington Post
‘There’s a “Mad Men” ambiance in these pages and those times . . . Lightman’s book is about what really defines the South — the real common denominator in our contested little matrix of blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles: family . .  .Sure, it’s a white man’s story and it’s a Jew’s story. But transcending both of those narratives, it’s a Southerner’s story. Everyone in Dixie’s little matrix of identity will find nothing but page after page of aching familiarity here.’ 

John Winters, The Artery
“…a captivating narrative about his family and himself… The memoir is full of such memorable characters … who will steal your heart.”

O magazine
“The physicist and author of The Accidental Universe returns to Memphis after a death in the family to ponder a Southern boyhood as rich and complex as science itself.”

Maria Browning, Knoxnews
Screening Room is written in the same elegant, precise style that makes Lightman’s novels so pleasurable to read, and the compelling concerns of his fiction — the slipperiness of memory, perception, and time, and the mystery at the heart of existence — are at the center of this book, as well. In Lightman’s hands, this story of a family becomes a meditation on the fleeting nature of our lives and the precious flashes of love and communion that illuminate them.”

Leonard Gill, Memphis Flyer
“What is Alan Lightman — physicist, MIT faculty member, novelist, essayist, and avowed atheist — doing writing of a time-traveling ghost-patriarch in the pages of Screening Room? It’s the same Alan Lightman, artist-scientist, who can imagine a cycle of souls as one way of interpreting a troubled family universe.”

Billy Heller, New York Post
“A book about making sense of the South and trying to go home again.”

Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Over the course of a dozen original, mind-spinning books, Lightman, a theoretical physicist turned writer, has brought science to fiction (Mr. g, 2012) and story to nonfiction (The Accidental Universe, 2014). So naturally, instead of writing a straightforward memoir, he has created a subtly fictionalized, emotionally refined, and radiantly descriptive chronicle of his stirring family history and often confounding boyhood within a colorful Jewish enclave in sternly segregated mid-twentieth-century Memphis, Tennessee….As irresistible as M. A. is, however, it is Alan’s frank and tender portraits of his “grossly mismatched” and sadly derailed parents and his candid tribute to their African American housekeeper, Blanche, that give this remembrance such poignant dimension. Lightman purposefully illuminates Memphis’ checkered past, especially its ethnic and racial divides, as he provides glimpses of himself as a budding scientist punished for ruining the rugs with his chemical experiments, a teen employee at his family’s movie theaters, and an underage music lover slipping into Beale Street clubs. Heck, he even tells an Elvis story. Lightman’s utterly transfixing screening of soulful and funny family memories projects a quintessentially American tale.”

Gish Jen, author of World and Town
“Screwball, electric, heartfelt, and true, Screening Room pulls no punches. This is Lightman in a new guise, and yet never more himself as he resurrects with aching care the time, place and people that gave him life. I was stirred and moved.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The cumulative effect of Lightman’s memories is wrenching: loss and illness and death wander freely in his pages, reminding us of the evanescence of youth and promise. The author shows us many small moments, igniting each with sparks of passion, memory and intelligence.”

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