Tuesday, 7:30 pm EDT May 11, 2021
Online via Zoom
For authors Courtney Zoffness (The Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow) and Gina Frangello (A Life in Men, Every Kind of Wanting), years of writing fiction have informed their latest projects in narrative nonfiction. The results are compelling and complex narratives of womanhood, motherhood, and art from authors who have a deeply formulated understanding of society.
Zoffness’s new book, Spilt Milk, is a collection of personal essays on sale beginning March 2. Frangello’s memoir Blow Your House Down is available April 6. Join us online for a conversation on both authors’ work.
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Courtney Zoffness writes fiction and nonfiction. She won the Sunday Times Short Story Award, a Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellowship, the Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Prize, and residencies from MacDowell. Her writing has appeared in the Paris Review Daily, the Southern Review, the New York Times, Longreads, and elsewhere. Spilt Milk (McSweeney’s 2021), her debut memoir-in-essays, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by LitHub and The Millions, and was listed as a Best New Book of 2021 by Refinery29. Courtney directs the Creative Writing Program at Drew University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Gina Frangello is the author of four books of fiction in addition to the memoir, Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason (Counterpoint 2021). Her novel A Life in Men (Algonquin 2014) is currently in development by Charlize Theron’s production company, Denver & Delilah. Her most recent novel, Every Kind of Wanting (Counterpoint 2016) was included on several “best of” lists for 2016, including in Chicago magazine and the Chicago Review of Books. She has nearly 20 years of experience as an editor, having founded both the independent press Other Voices Books and the fiction section of the popular online literary community The Nervous Breakdown. She has also served as the Sunday editor for the Rumpus, and as the faculty editor for both TriQuarterly Online and the Coachella Review. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews and journalism have been published in such venues as Salon, the LA Times, Ploughshares, the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and in many other magazines and anthologies. After two decades of teaching at many universities, including University of Illinois Chicago, Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies, UCLA Extension, the University of California Riverside Palm Desert, Roosevelt University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Lake Forest College, Gina is excited to be a student again at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Program for Writers, where she has returned to complete the PhD she left unfinished twenty years ago. She lives mainly in Chicago and occasionally in the California desert with her family and three gluttonous cats.
By Courtney Zoffness
Published by McSweeney's Publishing
What role does a mother play in raising thoughtful, generous children? In her literary debut, internationally award-winning writer Courtney Zoffness considers what we inherit from generations past—biologically, culturally, spiritually—and what we pass on to our children. Spilt Milk is an intimate, bracing, and beautiful exploration of vulnerability and culpability. Zoffness relives her childhood anxiety disorder as she witnesses it manifest in her firstborn; endures brazen sexual advances by a student in her class; grapples with the implications of her young son’s cop obsession; and challenges her Jewish faith. Where is the line between privacy and secrecy? How do the stories we tell inform who we become? These powerful, dynamic essays herald a vital new voice.
Blow Your House Down
By Gina Frangello
Published by Counterpoint Press
Gina Frangello spent her early adulthood trying to outrun a youth marked by poverty and violence. Now a long-married wife and devoted mother, the better life she carefully built is emotionally upended by the death of her closest friend. Soon, awakened to fault lines in her troubled marriage, Frangello is caught up in a recklessly passionate affair, leading a double life while continuing to project the image of the perfect family. When her secrets are finally uncovered, both her home and her identity will implode, testing the limits of desire, responsibility, love, and forgiveness.
Blow Your House Down is a powerful testimony about the ways our culture seeks to cage women in traditional narratives of self-sacrifice and erasure. Frangello uses her personal story to examine the place of women in contemporary society: the violence they experience, the rage they suppress, the ways their bodies often reveal what they cannot say aloud, and finally, what it means to transgress “being good” in order to reclaim your own life..
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