In the Event of Burns

Many thanks to the @writerscenter for hosting this wonderful conversation with Jeannine Ouellette, author of the searing, critically-acclaimed debut memoir The Part That Burns. We talked about sacred storytelling, instinctual choices and stories, literature’s moral task, and the essential challenge of writing the body. I hope you enjoy.

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The Part That Burns

One of my favorite reads this year is The Part That Burns, a lyrical, searing debut memoir by Jeannine Ouellette (Split/Lip Press, 2021), and so I’m thrilled to be in conversation with Jeannine next Wednesday, September 1st at 3pm PST. This is a free virtual event hosted by The Writer’s Center, MD. Please register here to join us!

The Part That Burns:

Caught between the dramatic landscapes of Lake Superior and Casper Mountain, between her stepfather’s groping and her mother’s erratic behavior, Ouellette lives for the day she can become a mother herself, and create her own sheltering family. What she does not know is how the visceral reality of birth and motherhood will pull her back into the body she long ago abandoned, revealing new layers of pain and desire, and forcing her to choose between her idealistic vision of perfect marriage and motherhood and the birthright of her own flesh, unruly and alive. This is a story about the tenacity of family roots, the formidable undertow of trauma, and the rebellious and persistent yearning of human beings for love from each other.

Order now from Split/Lip Books, Moon Palace Books, Bookshop, or your favorite independent bookstore!

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Burning Books Podcast

Many thanks to Ruth McKee for including me in Books Ireland Magazine’s wonderful podcast BURNING BOOKS. We chatted Emily Brontë, John Irving, Elizabeth Strout, and more. I also revealed which books, and what single treasured object, I would pull from the flames of my burning home (and which classic Irish text I would leave to turn to ashes). NOTE: I have since named my Ficus plant Nádúr (Irish for ‘Nature’).

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Cool Hot Press

I dispatched a small army of family to scour newsagents throughout Ireland for the latest issue of Hot Press Magazine and they did very well (particular thanks to Rosie Rohan). Hot Press was THE culture magazine of my teens and it remains an Irish icon. I’m thrilled that its pithy and brilliant Pat Carty reviewed In the Event of Contact and gave it such a close read: “Rohan has a great eye, and the turn of phrase to back it up.”

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C’mere Til I Tell You

I’m interrupting my convalescence, and my birthday, to bring you what might be the shortest ever narration of an adulterous sex scene (from “Into the West” in In the Event of Contact). With thanks to KALW’s FRESH AIR, Lisa Morehouse, Carla Estevez, and David Exume. LISTEN HERE.

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25th Annual IPPY Awards

This is all the sweeter and more surreal because I loved SHUGGIE BAIN by Douglas Stuart (Grove Atlantic). Congratulations to all the winners.

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That Queen Thing Again

My deep thanks to Jane Ciabattari and Literary Hub for including me in their stellar interview series. “In my work, my particular kingdoms, I have the power to invite readers into stories and situations they might ordinarily want to pull away from, but that hopefully they stay inside, are stirred by, and recognize the truth within.”

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Da relief. Da gratitude. Da hangover.

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What Have You Survived?

I remain grateful to Lori Narlock, founder of the Napa Valley Book Fest, for chatting with me about inspiration, obsession, imaginary friends, micro and macro aggressions, and going on with our wounds and our wonder. Thanks also to the wonderful Napa Bookmine for hosting the event and supporting my books. I very much look forward to returning to in person gatherings, and to bookshop and wine country visits!

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Video Much?

I don’t like to watch myself back on video (does anybody?) but I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation on craft, process, storytelling, fixations, and life with Joy Lanzendorfer, author of the sweeping and gripping debut historical novel RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM (Blackstone Publishing, May, 2021). My deep thanks to The Booksmith San Francisco for hosting the launch of IN THE EVENT OF CONTACT and for their longstanding support.

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