In Conversation: Amanda Filipacchi and Katherine Heiny
Thursday February 19, 2015
|Photo Credit: Marion Ettlinger (Filipacchi)
and Leila Barbaro (Heiny)
Amanda Filipacchi and Katherine Heiny came to The Center for a discussion on the process of writing, from how to discipline yourself as a writer and methods of routine to where to go for inspiration. They also discussed their latest books, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty (Filipacchi) and Single, Carefree, Mellow (Heiny).
About The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty
In the heart of New York City, a group of artistic friends struggles with society's standards of beauty. At the center are Barb and Lily, two women at opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, but with the same problem: each fears she will never find a love that can overcome her looks. Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, makes herself ugly in hopes of finding true love. Meanwhile, her friend Lily, a brilliantly talented but plain-looking musician, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the man who has rejected her--with results that are as touching as they are transformative.
To complicate matters, Barb and Lily discover they may have a murderer in their midst, that Barb's calm disposition is more dangerously provocative than her beauty ever was, and that Lily's musical talents are more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Part literary whodunit, part surrealist farce, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty serves as a smart, modern-day fairy tale. With biting wit and offbeat charm, Filipacchi illuminates the labyrinthine relationship between beauty, desire, and identity, asking at every turn: what does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?
Click here to watch a book trialer on T: The New York Times Style Magazine
In “Cranberry Relish” Josie’s ex—a man she met on Facebook—has a new girlfriend he found on Twitter. In “Blue Heron Bridge” Nina is more worried that the Presbyterian minister living in her garage will hear her kids swearing than about his finding out that she’s sleeping with her running partner. And in “The Rhett Butlers” a teenager loses her virginity to her history teacher and then outgrows him.
In snappy, glittering prose that is both utterly hilarious and achingly poignant, Katherine Heiny chronicles the ways in which we are unfaithful to each other, both willfully and unwittingly. Maya, who appears in the title story and again in various states of love, forms the spine of this linked collection, and shows us through her moments of pleasure, loss, deceit, and kindness just how fickle the human heart can be.
Described by The New York Times as a “lovely comic surrealist,” Amanda Filipacchi is the author of three previous novels: Nude Men, Vapor, and Love Creeps. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic, and has been included in Best American Humor and other anthologies. She holds an MFA from Columbia University. Born in France, she has lived in New York City for the past thirty years.
Katherine Heiny's fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Narrative, Glimmer Train, and many other places. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children. This is her first book.