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Tag: powell’s books

Jane Kirkpatrick in Conversation With Craig Johnson

Classically trained pianist and singer Natalie Curtis isolated herself for five years after a breakdown just before she was to debut with the New York Philharmonic. Guilt-ridden and songless, Natalie can’t seem to recapture the joy music once brought her. In 1902, her brother invites her to join him in the West to search for healing. What she finds are songs she’d never before encountered — the haunting melodies, rhythms, and stories of Native Americans. But their music is under attack. The US government’s Code of Offenses prohibits America’s Indigenous people from singing, dancing, or speaking their own languages as the powers that be insist on assimilation. Natalie makes it her mission not only to document these songs before they disappear but to appeal to…

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Jaime Lowe in Conversation With Jeff Sharlet

California’s fire season gets hotter, longer, and more extreme every year — fire season is now year-round. Of the thousands of firefighters who battle California’s blazes every year, roughly 30 percent of the on-the-ground wildland crews are inmates earning a dollar an hour. Approximately 200 of those firefighters are women serving on all-female crews. In Breathing Fire (MCD), Jaime Lowe expands on her revelatory work for The New York Times Magazine. She has spent years getting to know dozens of women who have participated in the fire camp program and spoken to captains, family and friends, correctional officers, and camp commanders. The result is a rare, illuminating look at how the fire camps actually operate — a story that encompasses California’s underlying catastrophes of climate…

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Nick Flynn in Conversation With Melissa Febos

When Nick Flynn was seven years old, his mother set fire to their house. The event loomed large in his imagination for years, but it’s only after having a child of his own that he understands why. He returns with his young daughter to the landscape of his youth, reflecting on how his feral childhood has him still in its reins, and forms his memories into lyrical bedtime stories populated by the both sinister and wounded Mister Mann. With the spare lyricism and dark irony of his classic, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Flynn excavates the terrain of his traumatic upbringing and his mother’s suicide. His searing new memoir, This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire (W. W. Norton), unravels the story…

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Rafia Zakaria in Conversation With Jean Guerrero

Rafia Zakaria’s Against White Feminism (W. W. Norton) is a radically inclusive, intersectional, and transnational approach to the fight for women’s rights. Elite white women have branded feminism, promising an apolitical individual empowerment along with sexual liberation and satisfaction, LGBTQ inclusion, and racial solidarity. As Zakaria expertly argues, those promises have been proven empty and white feminists have leant on their racial privilege and sense of cultural superiority. Drawing on her own experiences as an American Muslim woman, as well as an attorney working on behalf of immigrant women, Zakaria champions a reconstruction of feminism that forges true solidarity by bringing Black and brown voices and goals to the fore. Ranging from the savior complex of British feminist imperialists to the condescension of the white…

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James Lee Burke in Conversation With Charlaine Harris

The American West in the early 1960s appears to be a pastoral paradise: golden wheat fields, mist-filled canyons, frolicking animals. Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard has observed it from the open door of a boxcar, riding the rails for both inspiration and odd jobs. Jumping off in Denver, he finds work on a farm and meets Joanne McDuffy, an articulate and fierce college student and gifted painter. Their soul connection is immediate, but their romance is complicated by Joanne’s involvement with a shady professor who is mixed up with a drug-addled cult. When a sinister businessman and his son who wield their influence through vicious cruelty set their sights on Aaron, drawing him into an investigation of grotesque murders, it is clear that this idyllic…

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Melissa Broder in Conversation With Katherine Morgan

Superdoom (Tin House) brings together the best of Melissa Broder’s three cult out-of-print poetry collections — When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother, Meat Heart, and Scarecrone — as well as the best of her fourth collection, Last Sext. Embracing the sacred and the profane, often simultaneously, Broder, author of Milk Fed and The Pisces, gazes into the abyss and at the human body, with humor and heartbreak, lust and terror. Broder’s language is entirely her own, marked both by brutal strangeness and raw intimacy. At turns essayistic and surreal, bouncing between the grotesque and the transcendent, Superdoom is a must-have for longtime fans and the perfect introduction to one of our most brilliant and original poets. Broder will be joined in conversation by…

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Thea Prieto in Conversation With Leni Zumas

Environmental catastrophe has driven four people inside the dark throat of a cave: Sky, a child coming of age; Tie, pregnant and grieving; Mark, a young man poised to assume primacy; and Teller, an elder, holder of stories. As the devastating heat of summer grows, so does the poison in Teller’s injured leg and the danger of Tie’s imminent labor, food and water dwindling while the future becomes increasingly dependent on the words Sky gleans from the dead, stories pieced together from recycled knowledge, fragmented histories, and half-buried creation myths. Thea Prieto’s From the Caves (Red Hen) presents the past, present, and future in tandem, reshaping ancient and modern ideas of death and motherhood, grief and hope, endings and beginnings. Prieto will be joined in…

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Saïd Sayrafiezadeh in Conversation With David Adjmi

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has been hailed by Philip Gourevitch as “a masterful storyteller working from deep in the American grain.” His new collection of stories — some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories — is set in a contemporary America full of the kind of emotionally bruised characters familiar to readers of Denis Johnson and George Saunders. These are people contending with internal struggles — a son’s fractured relationship with his father, the death of a mother, the loss of a job, drug addiction — even as they are battered by larger, often invisible, economic, political, and racial forces of American society. Searing, intimate, often slyly funny, and always marked by a deep imaginative sympathy,…

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Margot Wood in Conversation With Gayle Forman

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer — from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may…

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Richard Zenith in Conversation With Patricio Ferrari

Nearly a century after his wrenching death, the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) remains one of our most enigmatic writers. Believing he could do “more in dreams than Napoleon,” yet haunted by the specter of hereditary madness, Pessoa invented dozens of alter egos, or “heteronyms,” under whose names he wrote in Portuguese, English, and French. Unsurprisingly, this “most multifarious of writers” (Guardian) has long eluded a definitive biographer — but in renowned translator and Pessoa scholar Richard Zenith, he has met his match. Relatively unknown in his lifetime, Pessoa was all but destined for literary oblivion when the arc of his afterlife bent, suddenly and improbably, toward greatness, with the discovery of some 25,000 unpublished papers left in a large, wooden trunk. Drawing on this…

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