Please join us at Bird in Hand for a lively night of readings featuring four wonderful authors! We're stoked and absolutely chuffed to host Mesha Maren, M. Randal O’Wain, Ashleigh Bryant Phillips, and Joseph Grantham to our humble cafe for a reading of their work and a discussion and Q&A session to follow!
Mesha Maren's Sugar Run begins in 1989. Jodi McCarty is seventeen years old when she’s sentenced to life in prison. When she’s released eighteen years later, she finds herself at a Greyhound bus stop, reeling from the shock of unexpected freedom but determined to chart a better course for herself. Not yet able to return to her lost home in the Appalachian Mountains, she heads south in search of someone she left behind, as a way of finally making amends. There, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother living in a motel room with her children. Together they head toward what they hope will be a fresh start. But what do you do with your past—and with a town and a family that refuses to forget, or to change?
Mesha Maren is the author of the novel Sugar Run (Algonquin Books). Her short stories and essays can be read in Tin House, The Oxford American, The Guardian, Crazyhorse, Triquarterly, The Southern Review, Ecotone, Sou’wester, Hobart, Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation grant, an Appalachian Writing Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation.
Set within the charged insularity of rural West Virginia, Mesha Maren’s Sugar Run is a searing and gritty debut about making a break for another life, the use and treachery of makeshift families, and how, no matter the distance we think we’ve traveled from the mistakes we’ve made, too often we find ourselves standing in precisely the place we began.
In Meander Belt M. Randal O’Wain offers a reflection on how a working-class boy from Memphis, Tennessee, came to fall in love with language, reading, writing, and the larger world outside of the American South. This memoir examines what it means for the son of a carpenter to value mental rather than physical labor and what this does to his relationship with his family, whose livelihood and sensibility are decidedly blue collar. Straining the father-son bond further, O’Wain leaves home to find a life outside Memphis, roaming from place to place, finding odd jobs, and touring with his band. From memory and observation, O’Wain assembles a subtle and spare portrait of his roots, family, and ultimately discovers that his working-class upbringing is not so antithetical to the man he has become.
Randal O'Wain holds an MFA from Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program. He is the author of Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South (American Lives Series, 2019) and Hallelujah Station and other stories. His essays and short stories have appeared in Oxford American, Guernica, The Pinch, Booth, Hotel Amerika, storySouth, among others.
Ashleigh Bryant Phillips grew up in rural Woodland, North Carolina. Her stories have been nominated for Best of the Net, awarded Best Small Fictions 2019, and taught in creative writing classrooms. Her debut collection SLEEPOVERS was chosen by Lauren Groff as the winner of the 2019 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize and is forthcoming in May 2020 from Hub City Press.
Joseph Grantham is the author of Tom Sawyer and Raking Leaves. He is the editor-in-chief of the online literary and culture magazine The Nervous Breakdown and the co-editor of Disorder Press which he runs with his sister. He is a registered pharmacy technician.
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