In American Romances (2009), her 13th book and first collection of essays, Rebecca Brown bobs and weaves through 300 years of American history, mixing social and literary critique with pop culture, autobiography, playful fantasy and misremembered movie plots, riffing on the stories we tell and the stories we don’t.
With jazz-like timing and swagger, she teases out hidden themes and unlikely intersections, entwining the lives of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Brian Wilson; imagining Gertrude Stein presiding over a same-sex religious movement; and remembering her own father, who may or may not have aided JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, Brown will read from her work for Washington University’s Writing Program in the Department of English in Arts & Sciences.
The event, sponsored as part of The Writing Program’s fall Reading Series, is free and open to the public and takes place in Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall.
Duncker Hall is located at the northwest corner of Brookings Quadrangle. A reception and book signing will immediately follow. For more information, call (314) 935-7130.
Raised in a military family, Brown moved frequently as a child, living in California, Texas, Kansas and Spain. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from George Washington University and a master’s in creative writing from the University of Virginia.
Her first book, the story collection The Evolution of Darkness, was released in 1984, followed by the novels The Haunted House (1986) and The Children’s Crusade (1989). Other books include The Gifts of the Body (1995), about a home-care worker looking after AIDS patients, and Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary (2003), a memoir about her mother’s cancer.
“Throughout her writing career, Brown has exhibited a rare sensitivity in delving into difficult, uncomfortable material — death, disease, imperfect bodies and minds,” notes the San Francisco Chronicle, adding that, “there’s also humor and sensuality so intense it’s visionary.”
Brown lives in Seattle and is on faculty at the University of Washington, Bothell, as well as at Evergreen State College in Olympia and Goddard College in Vermont. She frequently teaches at the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colo., and previously directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference.
In addition, Brown was the first writer-in-residence at Richard Hugo House, a literary arts center in Seattle, and co-founded the Jack Straw Writers Program.
Brown’s numerous honors include a Seattle Stranger Genius Award, the Boston Book Review Award for fiction, the Lambda Literary Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, and a Washington State Governor’s Award.
WHO: Fiction Writer Rebecca Brown
WHAT: Reading from her work
WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10
WHERE: Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall
COST: Free and open to the public
SPONSOR: Washington University’s Writing Program Reading Series
INFORMATION: (314) 935-7130