Garrard Conley and Taylor Larsen
A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family
Stranger, Father, Beloved:
This event includes a book signing
March 3, 2017
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes authors GARRARD CONLEY and TAYLOR LARSEN for a discussion of Conley's new-to-paperback memoir, Boy Erased, and Larsen's debut novel, Stranger, Father, Beloved.
About Boy Erased
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.
When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.
By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.
Praise for Boy Erased
“This brave and bracing memoir is an urgent reminder that America remains a place where queer people have to fight for their lives. It’s also a generous portrait of a family in which the myths of prejudice give way before the reality of love. Equal parts sympathy and rage, Boy Erased is a necessary, beautiful book.” —Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
"Exceptionally well-written . . . This timely addition to the debate on conversion therapy will build sympathy for both children and parents who avail themselves of it while still showing how damaging it can be." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"An essential document of the early 21st Century. Conley bears witness to something history will eventually condemn as too horrible to have happened, but he also takes the pain of "ex-gay therapy" and makes of it not just a record but a wonder." —Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
About Stranger, Father, Beloved
In the tradition of Tom Perrotta’s Little Children, a debut novel about a wealthy man who has reached a crossroads after a lifetime of repression and denial, sending him—and his family—into a slow spiral towards a total breakdown.
When Michael sees his wife Nancy chatting with a stranger at a party, his intuition tells him that he’s watching her with the man she should have married. He quickly begins a campaign to replace himself within his own family with this other man—who, to him, is worthier, better, and kinder—all so his faithful wife Nancy, his beautiful teenage daughter Ryan, and his young son Max can live the lives they deserve.
While Michael pursues this man’s friendship, Ryan goes through a period of sexual awakening and rebellion and distances herself from her family, and the quiet, weak Nancy becomes increasingly befuddled and frustrated by the behaviors of her husband and daughter. As tension and uncertainty build in their home, the James family slowly unravels.
With the quiet intensity of the film American Beauty and the emotional sensitivity of Lorrie Moore, Taylor Larsen creates a powerful and moving story about the fracturing of a family and its descent into chaos.
Praise for Stranger, Father, Beloved
"A mesmerizing, unsparing exploration of one man's descent, told in subtle, precise language that is reminiscent at times of Raymond Carver, Haruki Murakami, and Carson McCullers, but entirely Larsen's own creation; a wonderful debut." —Karen Russell, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove
"Stranger, Father, Beloved is a terrific debut—elegant and thoughtful, intelligent and haunting. Taylor Larsen had me thinking about her beautifully drawn characters—and their secrets—for days. A wonderful book." —Molly Antopol, National Book Award Finalist for The Unamericans
"Larsen makes a noteworthy debut with a family drama that explores loyalty, lies, and well-being . . . Larsen captures every nuance with finesse, every emotion with grace. An emotionally intelligent family drama that examines the breaking point of a marriage." —Kirkus, starred review
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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