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Regarding Sontag: Benjamin Taylor, David Gates, Sigrid Nunez & Honor Moore

Thursday November 16, 2017
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

 

To coincide with the publication of Debriefing: Collected Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), collection editor Benjamin Taylor (The Hue and Cry at Our House) talks with David Gates (Jernigan), Sigrid Nunez (Sempre Susan) and Honor Moore (The Bishop’s Daughter) about Sontag’s oeuvre of both fiction and nonfiction and her ongoing legacy.

 


 

Debriefing: Collected Stories (FSG) edited by Benjamin Taylor collects all of Susan Sontag’s shorter fiction, a form she turned to intermittently throughout her writing life. The book ranges from allegory to parable to autobiography and shows her wrestling with problems not assimilable to the essay, her more customary mode. Here she catches fragments of life on the fly, dramatizes her private griefs and fears, lets characters take her where they will. The result is a collection of remarkable brilliance, versatility, and charm. Sontag’s work has typically required time for people to catch up to it. These challenging works of literary art―made more urgent by the passage of years―await a new generation of readers. This is an invaluable record of the creative output of one of the most inquisitive and analytical thinkers of the twentieth century at the height of her power.

 

Susan Sontag was the author of four novels, including In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for Fiction; a collection of stories; several plays; and seven works of nonfiction. She died in New York City on December 28, 2004.

 



David Gates lives in Missoula, where he teaches at the University of Montana, and in Granville, New York, where he is associated with the Bennington Writing Seminars. His first novel, Jernigan, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1992 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A former Guggenheim Fellow, for many years he was a writer and editor at Newsweek, where he specialized in music and books.

 

Honor Moore’s most recent book is The Bishop’s Daughter, a memoir, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year. Her most recent collection of poems is Red Shoes. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Salmagundi, The New Republic, Freeman’s and many other journals and anthologies. For the Library of America, she edited Amy Lowell: Selected Poems and Poems from the Women’s Movement, an Oprah summer readings pick which is featured in the documentary about American feminism, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” She has been poet in residence at Wesleyan and the University of Richmond, visiting professor at the Columbia School of the Arts and three times the Visiting Distinguished Writer in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. When she was still in her twenties, Mourning Pictures, her play in poetry about her mother’s death, was produced on Broadway and won her a fellowship from the New York State Council on the Arts. The White Blackbird, A Life of the Painter Margarett Sargent by Her Granddaughter, published in 1996 and just reissued, was a New York Times Notable Book. She lives and writes in New York where she is on the graduate writing faculty of the New School.

 

Sigrid Nunez has published six novels: A Feather on the Breath of God, Naked Sleeper, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury, For Rouenna, The Last of Her Kind, and Salvation City. Her new novel, The Friend, will be published by Riverhead in 2018. Nunez is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian-American literature. Among the many journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Believer, The Threepenny Review, Tin House, and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Nunez has been the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a residency from the Lannan Foundation. She was the 2000-2001 Rome Prize Fellow in Literature at the American Academy in Rome. In 2003, she was elected as a Literature Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In spring 2005, she was the Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Nunez has taught at Princeton, Amherst, Smith, Columbia, the New School, Boston University, and Brooklyn College, and has been a visiting writer or writer in residence at Washington University, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California at Irvine, among others.


Benjamin Taylor is the author of Proust: The Search, named a Best Book of 2016 by Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review; Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay, named a Best Book of 2012 by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker; and of two award-winning novels, Tales Out of School and The Book of Getting Even. He edited Saul Bellow: Letters, named a Best Book of 2010 by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times and Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post, along with Bellow's There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction. A faculty member in The New School’s Graduate School of Writing, Taylor also teaches in the Graduate Writing Division of the School of the Arts at Columbia University. A past fellow and current trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, he has also been elected president of the Edward F. Albee Foundation.