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A young woman, desperate to escape the unspoken secrets of her impoverished Midwestern family, bluffs her way into college, arriving at the prestigious "school by the lake" in Chicago where she meets Jess, charismatic and rich and needy, and the two quickly form an insular, competitive friendship. The narrator immerses herself in Jess's world, collecting her new friend's hand-me-downs, accompanying her to family dinners and frat parties. As guilt builds for the sister she has left behind, the narrator is drawn into Jess's apparently effortless existence, with a perfect Yuppie family living nearby, and a doting fiancee. Meanwhile the Tylenol Killer -- a local psychopath rumored to be stuffing cyanide into pills sold at the drugstore -- is at first just terrifying gossip on campus. But the death of one of his victims triggers a surprising chain of events with major repercussions for the lives of both young women. Suddenly the lifestyle the narrator has come to share with Jess vanishes. As her attempts to restore order and control become increasingly desperate, their fragile friendship is exposed; and both young women must confront the realities of an adulthood neither one expected.
Silver Girl is an intimate coming-of-age account of the nuances of female friendship, of obsession and longing, greed and desire. Leslie Pietrzyk delves into the ways class and money dictate one's sense of self, and how relationships ultimately define who we become.
Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of Silver Girl, released in February 2018 by Unnamed Press, and called “profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing” in a Publishers Weekly starred review. Her collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her previous novels are Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Short fiction and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Iowa Review, Washingtonian, The Collagist, and Cincinnati Review. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and teaches often in the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing program. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia. For more information: www.lesliepietrzyk.com
The related short stories in The Islands trace the lives of two sisters and some of the people that surround them. Dominated by the tragic loss of a third sister at a young age, the family spirals out of control. The stories follow the sisters through three stages of their lives, each stage taking place on an island: in southwest Ireland, southern England, and the Bay of Naples. Beautifully written, the stories are evocative of landscape and character and suffused with Wall’s trademark eye for detail and metaphor. The Islands is the winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, one of the United States’ most prestigious awards for a book of short stories.
William Wall is the first international writer to win the prize since its inception in 1981. A native of Cork, Ireland, he is the author of four novels, four collections of poetry and two other volumes of short fiction. His work has won many honors including The Virginia Faulkner Award, The Patrick Kavanagh Award, and The Sean O’Faolain Prize, among others. Wall has been short- or longlisted for several awards, including The Man Booker Prize, Irish Book Award, the Raymond Carver Prize, and The Manchester Fiction Prize.
TIME & DATE
Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 7:00pm