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Peter Orner and Susan Minot

Tuesday September 17, 2013
07:00 pm

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Photo Credit: Traci Griffin (Orner) and Dinah Minot (Minot)

Peter Orner and Susan Minot read from and discussed their latest books, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge (a short story collection by Peter Orner) and Thirty Girls (a novel by Susan Minot).

 

About Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge

In his second story collection, Orner (Love and Shame and Love) fires jewel-toned shards of fiction into a stunning whole. These tales, many of which are as short as a paragraph, jump back and forth between Fall River, Mass.; Chicago; Russia; the Czech Republic; South Dakota; and other places, as well as skipping across decades. Though most stand alone, several feature the relatives of Horace and Josephine Ginsburg, a family’s “famous once-hads,” whose failed Ponzi scheme ruined their relatives and the whole town. Divided into four parts—“Survivors,” “The Normal,” “In Moscow Everything Will Be Different,” and “Country of Us”—the collection explores the heartache of the past; many stories feature men trying to make sense of the confusing adult world they inhabited as children. Perhaps the most tangible example is the title story, in which Horace’s brother-in-law Walt Kaplan—a daydreaming furniture salesman in 1947—ruminates on the time in 1938 when he made it over the Cape Cod Canal just ahead of a hurricane. Impermanence and longing pervade the collection. In “Fourteen-Year-Olds, Indiana Dunes, Late Afternoon,” one character “rises and stands in the shallow water and faces the beach as the waves break upon the shore, only to fall back toward her,” just as Orner returns over and over to these crystallized moments.

 

About Thirty Girls
The long-awaited novel from the best-selling, award-winning author of Evening is a literary tour de force set in war-torn Africa. Esther is a Ugandan teenager abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities, who is struggling to survive, to escape, and to find a way to live with what she has seen and done. Jane is an American journalist who has traveled to Africa, hoping to give a voice to children like Esther and to find her center after a series of failed relationships. In unflinching prose, Minot interweaves their stories, giving us razor-sharp portraits of two extraordinary young women confronting displacement, heartbreak, and the struggle to wrest meaning from events that test them both in unimaginable ways. With mesmerizing emotional intensity and stunning evocations of Africa's beauty and its horror, Minot gives us her most brilliant and ambitious novel yet.

 

Peter Orner's new collection of stories, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, will be published this August by Little, Brown. Orner is also the author of Esther Stories, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, and Love and Shame and Love. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, The Paris Review, Granta, and McSweeney's, and other periodicals, as well as in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-required Reading. Orner has received the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes. He is a professor at San Francisco State University and lives in Bolinas, California.

 

Susan Minot is an award-winning novelist, short-story writer, poet, and screenwriter. Her first novel, Monkeys, was published in a dozen countries and won the Prix Femina Étranger in France. Her novel Evening was a worldwide bestseller and became a major motion picture. She teaches writing at New York University and lives with her daughter in New York City and on the island of North Haven in Maine. Her new novel, Thirty Girls, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in February 2014.