Michelle Hoover, Patricia Horvath, & Sam Witt

At once intimate and sweeping, Bottomland follows the Hess family in the years after World War I, as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains. In the weeks after Esther and Myrle's disappearance, their siblings desperately search for them, through the stark farmlands to unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted? Ostracized and misunderstood in their small town in the wake of the war, the Hesses fear the worst. 

Bottomland is a haunting story of pride, love, and betrayal, set among the rugged terrain of Iowa, the fields of war-torn Flanders, and the bustling Chicago streets. With exquisite lyricism, Michelle Hoover deftly examines the intrepid ways a person can forge a life of one's own despite the dangerous obstacles of prejudice and oppression.

Michelle Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at Grub Street, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award. Her debut, The Quickening, was a 2010 Massachusetts Book Award Must Read. She is a native of Iowa and lives in Boston.


Patricia Horvath's transformation from a visibly disabled young woman to someone who, abruptly, "passes" for able-bodied, reveals cultural and personal tensions surrounding disability and creates an arc that connects imprisonment to freedom. What transpires is both suffocating and liberating. Horvath's confinement keeps her from being seen, but also cocoons a deeply personal sense of selfhood and relationship.

Horvath's lyric account of her experiences with severe scoliosis sings the connective tissue between her physical disability and her powerful interior. She is "poorly put together," her "body leans sharply to the left," she is "brittle-boned, stoop-shouldered, with an "S" shaped spine," her words flame up spirited and true. Wry and breathtakingly poignant, this meditative, inspirational memoir delves into that most invisible, vital structure: identity, whose shaping and disfigurement makes all the difference in our lives.

This book will particularly appeal to people interested in disability studies, feminist issues, 1970s popular culture, fairy tales, and survival.

Patricia Horvath's stories and essays have been published widely in literary journals including Shenandoah, The Massachusetts Review, New Ohio Review, The Los Angeles Review, and Confrontation. She is the recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in both fiction and literary nonfiction and of Bellevue Literary Review's Goldenberg Prize in Fiction for a story that was accorded a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. She teaches at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.


Sam Witt was born in Wimbledon, England, and lived there until the age of seven, at which time his family moved to America, where they lived in North Carolina and then Virginia. After graduation from the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Witt lived and worked as a freelance journalist in San Francisco for several years, publishing in such magazines as Computerworld, the San Francisco ChronicleSalon, and Wired.

His first book of poetry, Everlasting Quail, won the Katherine Nason Bakeless First Book Prize in 2000, sponsored by Breadloaf. Everlasting Quail was published by UPNE the following year, and he received a Fulbright Fellowship to live and write in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for a year. Witt has participated in poetry festivals at Druskininkai and Vilnius at the invitation of the Lithuanian government; he has been a resident at the Breadloaf  Writers’ Conference and at Yaddo; his poems have been published in Virginia QuarterlyHarvard ReviewGeorgia ReviewDenver QuarterlyColorado ReviewFence, and New England Review, among other journals, and in the anthologies New Young American Poets and the Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries.

Witt has taught  at the University of Iowa, Harvard University, the University of Missouri Kansas-City, Whitman College, and other institutions. He currently teaches creative writing and expository writing at Framingham State University. Sam Witt also serves as the poetry editor for Jaded Ibis Press.

 

Event date: 
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Porter Square Books
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140