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Belle Point Press

Letting In Air and Light

Letting In Air and Light

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Letting In Air and Light, by Teresa Tumminello Brader

From a double shotgun house in New Orleans comes a true story larger than life. Teresa Tumminello Brader, niece of the convicted art forger William Toye, retells her family’s experience as she discovers her uncle’s misdeeds after decades of secrecy. Personal reflections and newspaper records alternate with a fictionalized reimagining of Toye’s complicated life. On both sides of the story, what emerges is an attempt to honor Louisiana artist Clementine Hunter’s legacy without flinching from the painful realities that come from reckoning with family bonds. Empathetic and honest, Letting in Air and Light will inspire you to look more closely at your own history and wonder what else you might have missed.

Teresa Tumminello Brader is a New Orleanian, spurred on to writing by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She has a bachelor of arts in English from Marquette University, her four years in Milwaukee the only time she lived away from the city of her birth. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and reviews can be found at various online literary sites, as well as in print anthologies. This is her first book.

Praise for Letting In Air and Light:

“A poignant treatise on the tricks of memory and a deep exploration of family ties, loops, and knots across generations, Letting In Air and Light is both a beautiful read and a cathartic one. With a sense of immediacy that extends both to the present and the past, Brader deftly puts an arm around the reader and brings them along on her journey toward discovering the truth about her art forger uncle—and to reconcile, in the end, how truth and the truths we tell ourselves rarely run smoothly together.”

—Steph Post, author of Miraculum and Lightwood

“Teresa Tumminello Brader expertly weaves a tale of both fiction and nonfiction in this riveting account of a niece’s discovery of a deeply hidden family secret. As Brader herself says: ‘memory is unreliable; it might as well be fiction.’ But in her exploratory and observant hands, we are swept along in her seeking to understand the dark underbelly of her family heritage, and the conflicting legacy of creative talent and mental illness, played out in the yin/yang of success versus appropriation and fraud. Brava to Brader for breathing ‘air and light’ into this largely unknown crime story. In doing so, she also shines an important spotlight on the victim, folk artist Clementine Hunter. A powerful hybrid memoir that is both tribute and indictment.”

—Tara Lynn Masih, author of How We Disappear

“When life hands you an art forger for an uncle, you have no choice but to write this wonderful book. Teresa Tumminello Brader's memoir is simultaneously an absorbing page-turner and a deep, moral investigation into family, set against the richly imagined world that was the New Orleans of her ancestors. So much depends on that double-shotgun house on Plum Street. Written with generosity and warmth toward flawed people, this book lights its curious eye on the tension between art and artifice, how we are made by our circumstances, and what happens when the drive to create goes awry. An altogether splendid saga of family secrets, unraveling over time.”

—Constance Adler, author of
My Bayou: New Orleans Through the Eyes of a Lover

"Teresa Tumminello Brader is a born storyteller burdened by a dark and long-hidden family secret. In search of the truth, she pieces together facts that reveal an infamous art forger and con man living next door to her grandparents: her brilliant, troubled uncle. What a fascinating tale to bring so bravely out into the light of day."

—Pia Z. Ehrhardt, author of Famous Fathers & Other Stories 

Interview with Teresa

Feature in Country Roads Magazine

NPR Interview: The Reading Life

Further reading:

Garden & Gun 2010 feature on William Toye

Learn more about Clementine Hunter (64 Parishes)

African-American fakes on the rise (

Painted Memoir: The Story of Clementine Hunter and the African House Murals


    • Trim size: 5.5" x 8.5"
    • Publication date: October 10, 2023
    • ISBN: 978-1-960215-03-1

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