Award-winning writer Benjamin Nugent discussed his latest release Fraternity: Stories with Leslie Jamison (Make It Scream, Make It Burn). The short story collection “weaves humor and drama to shine an unflinching light on the young adults convening behind the fraternity wall” (Publishers Weekly).
By Benjamin Nugent
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In a Massachusetts college town stands a dilapidated colonial: Delta Zeta Chi. Here, we meet Newton, the beloved chapter president; Oprah, the sensitive reader; Petey, the treasurer, loyal to a fault; Claire, the couch-surfing dropout who hopes to sell them drugs; and a girl known, for unexpected reasons, as God. Though the living room reeks of sweat and spilled beer, the brothers know that to be inside is everything.
Fraternity celebrates the debauched kinship of boys and girls straddling adolescence and adulthood: the drunken antics, solemn confessions, and romantic encounters that mark their first years away from home. Beneath each episode lies the dread of exclusion. The closeted Oprah’s hero worship gives way to real longing. A combat veteran offers advice on hazing. An alienated young woman searches for a sanctuary. And the shadow of assault hovers over every sexual encounter.
Make It Scream, Make It Burn
By Leslie Jamison
Published by Little, Brown and Company
With the virtuosic synthesis of memoir, criticism, and journalism for which Leslie Jamison has been so widely acclaimed, the fourteen essays in Make It Scream, Make It Burn explore the oceanic depths of longing and the reverberations of obsession.
Among Jamison’s subjects are 52 Blue, deemed “the loneliest whale in the world”; the eerie past-life memories of children; the devoted citizens of an online world called Second Life; the haunted landscape of the Sri Lankan Civil War; and an entire museum dedicated to the relics of broken relationships. Jamison follows these examinations to more personal reckonings — with elusive men and ruptured romances, with marriage and maternity — in essays about eloping in Las Vegas, becoming a stepmother, and giving birth.
Often compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, and widely considered one of the defining voices of her generation, Jamison interrogates her own life with the same nuance and rigor she brings to her subjects. The result is a provocative reminder of the joy and sustenance that can be found in the unlikeliest of circumstance..