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Stephen Markley / Ohio
June 19, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
The Booksmith hosts Stephen Markley for Ohio. Join us!
Since the turn of the century, a generation has come of age knowing only war, recession, political gridlock, racial hostility, and a simmering fear of environmental calamity. In the country’s forgotten pockets, where industry long ago fled, where foreclosures, Walmarts, and opiates riddle the land, death rates for rural whites have skyrocketed, fueled by suicide, addiction and a rampant sense of marginalization and disillusionment. This is the world the characters in Stephen Markley’s Ohio inherit. This is New Canaan.
On one fateful summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each of them with a mission, all of them haunted by regrets, secrets, lost loves. There’s Bill Ashcraft, an alcoholic, drug-abusing activist, whose fruitless ambitions have taken him from Cambodia to Zuccotti Park to New Orleans, and now back to “The Cane” with a mysterious package strapped to the underside of his truck; Stacey Moore, a doctoral candidate reluctantly confronting the mother of her former lover; Dan Eaton, a shy veteran of three tours in Iraq, home for a dinner date with the high school sweetheart he’s tried to forget; and the beautiful, fragile Tina Ross, whose rendezvous with the captain of the football team triggers the novel’s shocking climax.
At once a murder mystery and a social critique, Ohio ingeniously captures the fractured zeitgeist of a nation through the viewfinder of an embattled Midwestern town and offers a prescient vision for America at the dawn of a turbulent new age.
“Markley [does] some extraordinary things with the structure of the book… Casual details suddenly take on new surprising significance. There’s real pleasure in this hopscotching narrative: with each new point of view, a clearer sense of the hidden story emerges as the reader slowly pieces together some shocking revelations… The most moving parts of the book are those that step back and let the events and the actions speak for themselves, as when one character (the shy bookish one from high school) recalls his first tours in Afghanistan. The beautifully precise details are all the more vivid for their lack of accompanying commentary. The real core of this earnestly ambitious debut lies not in its sweeping statements but in its smaller moments, in its respectful and bighearted renderings of damaged and thwarted lives. It’s the human scale that most descriptively reveals the truth about the world we’re living in.” – Dan Chaon, New York Times Book Review
“Ohio isn’t just a remarkable debut novel, it’s a wild, angry and devastating masterpiece of a book. Markley’s debut is a sprawling, beautiful novel that explores the aftermath of the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a powerful look at the tenuous bonds that hold people together at their best and at their worst. [Ohio] is intricately constructed, with gorgeous, fiery writing that pulls the reader in and never lets go.”– NPR
Stephen Markley is an author, screenwriter, and journalist. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Markley’s previous books include the novel Ohio, the memoir Publish This Book: The Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold, and Published This Very Book, and the travelogue Tales of Iceland. He lives in Los Angeles.
This is a free, all-ages event.
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