The Last Bookstore is pleased to present a double-header: Christine Schutt reads from her new story collection, Pure Hollywood, and Kim O’Neil reads from her first book, a collection of linked stories, Fever Dogs.
Hailed by George Saunders as “a truly gifted writer,” with Pure Hollywood, Pulitzer Prize finalist and O. Henry Prize winner Christine Schutt returns to the short-story form that launched her acclaimed career and her inimitable style John Ashbery once described as “pared down but rich, dense, fevered, exactly right and even eerily beautiful.” In eleven captivating tales, Pure Hollywood brings us into private worlds of corrupt familial love, intimacy, longing, and danger. From an alcoholic widowed actress living in desert seclusion to a young mother whose rejection of her child has terrible consequences, a newlywed couple who ignore the violent warnings of a painter burned by love to an eerie portrait of erotic obsession, each story in Pure Hollywood is an imagistic snapshot of what it means to live and learn, love and hurt. In league with short-story virtuosos J.D. Salinger, Katherine Mansfield, and Guy de Maupassant, Schutt gives us sharply suspenseful and masterfully dark interior portraits of ordinary lives, infused with her signature observation and surprise. Timeless, incisive, and precise, these tales are a rush of blood to the head, portals through which we open our eyes and see the world anew.
Kim O’Neil’s debut Fever Dogs is a fictional biography of three generations of women that Elizabeth McKenzie calls “a stunning collection of stories—each one tightly wound and glimmering with mysterious force.” It begins at the turn of the twenty-first century with Jean, a young woman at an impasse. Romantically adrift, in a dying profession, she decides that to make herself a future, she must first make herself a past. To deal with a violent history, Jean’s mother has violently erased it. Starting from a bare outline that includes an unspoken death, a predatory father, and a homeless stint, Jean reconstructs the life her mother, Jane, might have lived. But origin stories can never completely cover their tracks: like Jean’s story, Jane’s cannot be told apart from that of her own mother. What follows is a set of stories spanning nearly a century in response to questions which the narrator wishes she had asked her mother and to which she has disjointed answers at best. In the absence of answers, the narrator, in various points of view, invents them. As the stories progress backwards in time, the footholds in fact grow fewer–and the shift to fabulism greater. But in her attempt to unravel her mother’s origin and her own, Jean finds that the stories she invents–like the dogs who run through them as witnesses, allies, and objects of desire–serve as well as any other in the makeshift task of authoring a life.
Christine Schutt is the author of three short-story collections: Nightwork, A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer, and Pure Hollywood. She is also the author of three novels: Florida, All Souls, and Prosperous Friends, with a fourth novel on the way. She has been a finalist in fiction for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She lives and teaches in New York.
Kim O’Neil graduated from the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine. Her work has been published in Electric Literature, Packingtown Review, Faultline, and Juked. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and assistant director of the Writing Center.
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Those wishing to get books signed will be asked to purchase a copy of the author’s title from The Last Bookstore. Any outside books must be checked with security upon entering the store. This policy applies to all Last Bookstore events unless otherwise noted. Save your receipt; it will be checked when you enter the signing line.