«The real imaginary»: Novelists Rebecca Clarren and Kimi Eisele in conversation about writing, love, and resilience in environmentally dark times.
On Friday, September 14, join authors Kimi Eisele and Rebecca Clarren in conversation about their latest books. Reading, chatting, music, and book-signing at Exo Roast Co., 7pm.
KICKDOWN by Rebecca Clarren:
When Jackie Dunbar's father dies, she takes a leave from medical school and goes back to the family cattle ranch in Colorado to set affairs in order. But what she finds derails her: The Dunbar ranch is bankrupt, her sister is having a nervous breakdown, and the oil and gas industry has changed the landscape of this small western town both literally and figuratively, tempting her to sell a gas lease to save the family land. There is fencing to be repaired and calves to be born, and no one—except Jackie herself—to take control. But then a gas well explodes in the neighboring ranch, and the fallout sets off a chain of events that will strain trust, sever old relationships, and ignite new ones. Rebecca Clarren's Kickdown is a tautly written debut novel about two sisters and the Iraq war veteran who steps in to help. It is a timeless and timely meditation on the grief wrought by death, war, and environmental destruction. Kickdown, like Kent Haruf's Plainsong or Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone, weaves together the threads of land, family, failure, and perseverance to create a gritty tale about rural America.
THE LIGHTEST OBJECT IN THE UNIVERSE by Kimi Eisele:
After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell for during a chance visit to his school. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls,
clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be delivered from hardship if they can find their way to the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, who is broadcasting on all the airwaves countrywide. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Beatrix and her neighbors turn to one another for food, water, and solace, and begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could, in fact, be a promising beginning. With no internet or phone or postal service, can Beatrix and Carson find their way back to each other, and what will be left of their world when they do? The answers may lie with fifteen-year-old Rosie Santos who travels reluctantly with her grandmother to Jonathan Blue, finding her voice and making choices that could ultimately decide the fate of the cross- country lovers. The Lightest Object in the Universe is a story about resilience and adaptation, a testament to the power of community and a chronicle of moving on after catastrophic loss, illustrating that even in the worst of times, our best traits, borne of necessity, can begin to emerge.
Award-winning journalist REBECCA CLARREN has been writing about the rural West for twenty years. Her journalism, for which she has won the Hillman Prize, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, and nine grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, has appeared in such publications as MotherJones, High Country News, The Nation, and Salon.com.
Her first novel, Kickdown (Sky Horse Press, 2018), was shortlisted for the PEN/Bellwether Prize. She lives in Portland, Ore. with her husband and two young sons.
KIMI EISELE is a writer and multidisciplinary artist. Her writing has appeared in Orion, High Country News, Terrain.org
, and Fourth Genre, and has covered art, the environment, health, culture, youth, and the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. A dancer/choreographer, Eisele’s performance work explores human-nature relationships and often involves storytelling and public participation in site-specific venues. She holds a master’s degree in geography from the University of Arizona, and has taught creative writing and dance in schools, communities, and institutions for two decades. The recipient of numerous awards and residencies, she currently lives in Tucson and works for the Southwest Folklife Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating traditional knowledge and cultural expression.