On the rainy evening of September 27, 1999, Dr. Clark Elliott was en route to DePaul University to deliver a lecture when his car was rear ended at a Morton Grove stoplight. Shaken but seemingly uninjured, Elliott continued on to DePaul’s campus unaware he’d suffered a concussion that would dramatically alter his life. In his remarkable new memoir The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back, Elliott details the harrowing effects of his concussion along with his remarkable recovery almost 10 years later with the help of two cutting-edge Chicago doctors. This Monday, November 7th you can hear Dr. Elliott discuss The Ghost in My Brain when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m. In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about the debilitating concussion symptoms he fought to overcome, brain plasticity, the groundbreaking work of Drs. Donalee Markus and Deboray Zelinsky, and the reasons he wrote his book.
Amina Gautier writes short stories, and her short story collections win awards. It’s about that simple. Back in 2011, for instance, her debut collection At-Risk earned the Flannery O’Connor Award and the First Horizon Award among other honors, and her 2014 follow-up Now We Will Be Happy won the Praire Schooner Book Prize. This past February Gautier continued the trend with The Loss of All Lost Things – a gripping collection of fifteen stories that explores the unpredictable ways in which characters deal with the loss of their loved ones, careers, reputations, and hometowns. Not only did her third collection win the Elixir Press Award in Fiction, but Gautier was also included on Newcity’s 2016 Lit 50 list and is set to receive the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award in October. Back on May 9, Gautier visited EPL to read from The Loss of All Lost Things as part of the 2016 Evanston Literary Festival, but if you missed her that night, have no fear. You can catch her this Saturday, June 11 at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest, and what’s more, we recently spoke with her via email about her love of the short story form, her creative process, and the challenges of writing intimately about loss.
Abby Geni insists she’s “always been a novelist at heart,” and with her provocative debut thriller The Lightkeepers, it’s clear the Evanston native is following her true calling. Part murder mystery, part ghost story, The Lightkeepers tells the twisting tale of nature photographer Miranda as she begins a one-year residency on the Farallon Islands – a remote, untamed archipelago off the California coast. Shortly after arriving, Miranda is assaulted by one of the six biologists studying the islands, and when her attacker is found mysteriously dead days later, she must struggle to face the reality of her assault as the violence escalates around her and suspicions run wild. An insightful exploration of the nature of recovery and the harsh indifference of the natural world, The Lightkeepers was described by the Chicago Tribune as both “an accessible page-turner” and “an astonishingly ambitious debut [that] like many literary classics… raises questions about humanity that are anything but light.” Back on April 25, Geni visited Bookends & Beginnings to read from The Lightkeepers as part of an EPL-sponsored event also featuring author Ben Nadler. If you missed her that night, however, have no fear because we recently spoke to her via email about her novel’s origins, bringing the Farallon Islands to life, and the human disconnect with nature.
Ben Nadler believes that “a writer owes a reader a good story,” and with his excellent new novel The Sea Beach Line, that’s exactly what the Brooklyn-based author delivers. A hypnotic hybrid of literary crime fiction and Jewish folklore, The Sea Beach Line tells the gripping coming-of-age story of Izzy Edel, a young man adrift after being expelled from Oberlin for hallucinogenic drug use. Given renewed purpose after receiving a mysterious postcard from his estranged father Alojzy, Izzy travels to New York City where he must navigate Alojzy’s world of street vendors, gangsters, and members of a religious sect as he searches for his missing dad. Filled with sharp insights on loyalty, self-reliance, and the complicated bonds of family, The Sea Beach Line was described in Library Journal’s starred review as “a mesmerizing narrative that will speak to any readers who have tried to make sense of their parents’ lives or the secrets that people keep.” This Monday, April 25th at 7 pm, you can hear Nadler read from The Sea Beach Line when he visits Bookends & Beginnings as part of an EPL-sponsored event also featuring author Abby Geni. In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about literary traditions, his novel’s origins, the history of Hasidic tales, collective memory, and a few of his favorite books and poems.
We last talked with author Christine Sneed back in early 2011 shortly after she published her first short story collection Portraits of A Few of the People I’ve Made Cry. Already the winner of the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, her stunning debut became a magnet for literary awards and was eventually named a finalist for the LA Times’ Book Prize for First Fiction. But Sneed was just getting started. In the years that followed, the NU writing teacher has published two critically-acclaimed novels – Little Known Facts (2013) and Paris, He Said (2015), graced the cover of the NY Times Book Review, and continued to collect writing honors including the Carl Sandburg 21st Century Award and a Booklist nod for a Top Ten Debut Novel. This Saturday, April 9th, you can hear Sneed read selections from her recent work when she visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 4 pm along with author and comedienne Julia Sweeney. In anticipation of her visit, we recently spoke with her via email about the life of a successful novelist, her forthcoming story collection The Virginity of Famous Men, the resurgence of short fiction, and her favorite recent reads.
Five years ago Evanston poet Joshua Corey began to experience an unusual sensation. After publishing three celebrated poetry collections, the Lake Forest College professor suddenly felt the “uncharacteristic itch to write some prose.” Readers everywhere should be thankful he scratched that itch because the result was Corey’s fantastic first novel Beautiful Soul: An American Elegy. Described as “an impressive postmodern noir debut,” Beautiful Soul “centers around Ruth, a bored and frustrated young mother in the Chicago suburbs haunted by the letters she receives from her own mother, who has been dead for several years.” On Thursday, October 2nd, you can hear Mr. Corey read from Beautiful Soul when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m. along with local authors Patrick Creevy and Dennis Byrne. In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about the evolution of Beautiful Soul, poetry vs. prose, mother-daughter relationships, hardboiled detective novels, and his latest John Ashbery-approved poetry collection.
Paul McComas wears many hats…as well as the occasional half-head Frankenstein’s Monster mask. McComas is the author of two novels and two short story collections, and the editor of two short-fiction anthologies. In addition, the Evanston resident is an award-winning indie filmmaker, a teacher of writing, literature, and film, and a performance artist of no small repute. His latest project is the novella Fit For A Frankenstein, co-authored with his long-time friend, Greg Starrett. This is the first book for Starrett, a resident of Munster, Indiana, and the founder of Veidt Radio Theatre.
Fit For A Frankenstein pays homage to Universal Studio’s monster movies of the 1930s and 1940s, as it follows Ygor’s and the Monster’s increasingly zany quest for a size 66 X-X-Long suit. Logan’s Run author William F. Nolan recommends it for any reader with “fond memories of the iconic Monster.” On Saturday, October 26, McComas and Starrett will perform scenes from the book, answer questions, and sign copies for anyone brave enough to venture to the Community Meeting Room at 3 p.m. We recently overcame our fears, and sat down to talk with the co-authors about their monstrous collaboration.
Randy Richardson is no stranger to Chicago’s literary scene. A journalist, essayist, and the president of the Chicago Writers Association, his debut novel Lost in the Ivy was named one of 2005’s notable Chicago books by Gapers Block. Now Richardson is back with his new novel Cheeseland, and the local lit world is buzzing again. Favorably compared to the work of Dennis Lehane and Nicholas Sparks, Cheeseland tells the tragicomic coming-of-age story of Lance Parker and Daniel McAllister, two Southside teens who embark on a Wisconsin road trip to mend their fractured friendship. A 2011 Evie Fiction Finalist, Cheeseland has been described by author Christine Sneed as an unforgettable page-turner that “reminds us that adolescence can be a land of thrilling self-discovery and of serious danger.” On Thursday, January 24th, you can hear Mr. Richardson read from Cheeseland when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 6:30 p.m. along with local authors Gail Lukasik and Jerry Jaffe. In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about his real-life inspirations for the book, the destructive nature of secrets, what’s new at CWA, and his favorite reads from 2012.
EPL is bringing fantasy to life. Fantasy fiction, that is. In case you haven’t heard, NY Times Bestselling novelist Steven Erikson is coming to the library, and we couldn’t be more excited. Author of the critically acclaimed “Malazan Book of the Fallen” fantasy series, Erikson will visit the Community Meeting Room of EPL’s Main Branch on Saturday, September 29th at 4 p.m. to read from Forge of Darkness – the first book in his new Kharkanas trilogy. As we eagerly await this very special event, we thought we’d share a pair of pleasant diversions to help pass the time until Mr. Erikson’s arrival. First off, check out this excellent intro to Forge of Darkness written for new fantasy readers by the author himself. Then, as a final literary appetizer, don’t miss this fascinating Tor interview in which Mr. Erikson discusses escapist lit, the merits of fantasy fiction, and his growth as a writer. Enjoy, and see you on the 29th!
That’s right, folks. NY Times Bestselling author Alan Furst is coming to EPL, and we couldn’t be more excited. Described by Vince Flynn as “the most talented espionage novelist of our generation,” Furst will visit the Community Meeting Room of EPL’s Main Branch on Saturday, June 16th at 4 p.m. to read from Mission to Paris – the latest of his 12 critically acclaimed books. As we eagerly await this very special event, we thought we’d share a pair of pleasant diversions to help pass the time until Mr. Furst’s arrival. First, to help whet your appetite for Mission to Paris, check out this glowing NY Times review in advance of the novel’s June 12th release. Then, as a final literary appetizer, don’t miss this insightful Wall Street Journal interview with Mr. Furst himself. Enjoy, and see you on the 16th!