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The Ivy welcomes Kimi Eisele and Laura Wexler to discuss Eisele’s new book The Lightest Object in the Universe.
We begin The Lightest Object in the Universe in the worst of times: global economic collapse. Electrical grid failure. A lethal strain of influenza that hobbles entire communities; gangs of starving, aimless children who rove the streets for sustenance, with only each other and their weapons for protection. This is the world that debut author and multidisciplinary artist Kimi Eisele constructs, but rather than follow that sadly familiar, blighted path to more destruction, she turns our expectations on their head. What follows is a tale that imagines beauty within the mayhem; a new beginning that follows a catastrophic end.
Amid the chaos of a world without phones or reliable plumbing, Carson, a high school teacher who devotes himself to recording the history that is unfolding all around him, heads west on foot. His journey, he hopes, will bring him back into the arms of Beatrix, a woman he met and fell in love with during a chance visit to his school. Along the way, he encounters a wide variety of lost souls, clever opportunists, and fervent believers of the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, whose nationwide radio broadcasts promise an end to suffering in his utopia, The Center. 3,000 miles away, Beatrix uses her activist roots to create a different sort of safe harbor for all those who need it, countering Jonathan Blue’s message with a cooperative radio program of her own, refusing to lose faith in the promise of a new beginning. Whether Carson and Beatrix find each other, though, relies on 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 crosscountry lovers.
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.
Laura Wexler is a writer, teacher, editor, and producer living in Baltimore. She is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America, as well as longform nonfiction published in The Washington Post Magazine, DoubleTake, The Oxford American, and elsewhere. In addition to teaching nonfiction courses in the M.A. in Writing Program, she is on the faculty of the Goucher College M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction. She served as Senior Editor of Baltimore Style magazine for a decade and now works as a freelance book editor. She is the co-founder and co-producer of The Stoop Storytelling Series, a popular cultural event in Baltimore in which ordinary people tell extraordinary true stories about their lives. She is the co-writer of a TV pilot about a radical experiment at Johns Hopkins in the 1960s, and is at work on a novel and an immersive theater piece.
TIME & DATE
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 7:00pm