In 2019, CJ Hauser’s Paris Review essay about calling off their wedding went about as viral as a literary essay can possibly go. Though Hauser had been primarily a fiction writer, the essay’s success resulted in a nonfiction book deal, and, happily, we now have the brilliant memoir-in-essays The Crane Wife.
I love and admire this collection. In many of the essays, Hauser deconstructs a familiar pop-culture text—Katherine Hepburn’s iconic film The Philadelphia Story, a William Carlos Williams poem, The Wizard of Oz—re-examining the myths about desire it offers. Frank and funny, the book is about love, and also, as New York Times columnist Jennifer Senior writes, “about the power of stories: The ones we are told versus the ones we tell ourselves; how they shape and misshape our expectations; how those stories can both affirm our instincts and estrange us from our deepest yearnings, sometimes at the same time.”
CJ and I will be discussing The Crane Wife—which was a Guardian “Best Book of the Year” and a Lambda Literary Award finalist—at the Academy Art Museum on October 13. Register via AAM’s website to save your seat!
What I’m Reading:
Stay True by Hua Hsu. Hsu, a loner at UC Berkeley, becomes unlikely friends with Ken, a gregarious frat boy who is also Asian American, and who is senselessly killed in a carjacking. Two decades later, the New Yorker staff writer reflects on the ways Ken’s friendship and death shaped Hsu’s own identity. This exquisite memoir was in my TBR pile for almost a year before I finally got to it. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Jackson wanted this to be “the kind of novel you really can’t read alone in a dark house at night.” While I’m usually a big baby when it comes to scary stories, I was intrigued by CJ Hauser’s essay about the book. When A Public Space announced it as their October APS Together read, I signed up—and am praying I don’t get nightmares.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. My audiobook rec for the month is this 2017 best-seller, which recaps the horrifying murders of dozens of oil-rich Osage and the FBI’s hunt for their killer in 1920s Oklahoma. Grann’s book, which was a National Book Award finalist, and the much-hyped Martin Scorsese film adaptation coming out later this month have both been endorsed by the Osage community.
What Else I’m Looking Forward to on the Shore:
Film: “The Aunties” @ Mt. Pleasant Acres Farms, Preston
3:00-8:00 Saturday, October 14
The finale of the day-long We Will Be Elders Soulfest will be a screening of this short film documenting the preservation work and activism of farm owners Paulette Greene and Donna Dear.
Art Talk: Amy Boon McCreesh @ Academy Art Museum, Easton
11:00 Saturday October 21
McCreesh will discuss her current exhibition, Visual Currency, which critiques luxury through exuberant mixed-media work.
Opera: Dead Man Walking @ Avalon Theater, Easton
1:00 Saturday October 21
$25 general, $23 senior, $17 student
Based on the memoir by Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking has become the most widely performed opera of the past several decades. The Met’s first-ever staging will be live-streamed at the Avalon as part of the “Live in HD” series.
Theater: Stage Fright II: 1964 @ Avalon Theater, Easton
Thursday October 26-Sunday October 28
$40 / $135 for the 10/28 “Director’s Cut” performance
Marguerite has been haunting the Avalon Theater since 1927, when she tragically fell down the elevator shaft. How does her story end? Featuring the music of Jenny & The Teen Spirit, this mid-century sequel picks up where we were left hanging last Halloween.
Shore Lit aims to enhance cultural offerings on the Eastern Shore with free community author events. This newsletter is written by Shore Lit Founder and Director Kerry Folan. If you see her walking her greyhound Pilot around town, stop and tell her what you’re reading!