Ann Beattie at Harvard Book Store
July 18, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning short story writer ANN BEATTIE for a discussion of her new collection Onlookers.
Update on Event Masking Policies
Masks are not required for this event. As of June 1, 2023, masks are encouraged but not required for most Harvard Book Store events, unless otherwise specified. Please review individual listings.
Onlookers is an astute new story collection about people living in the same Southern town whose lives intersect in surprising ways. Peaceful Charlottesville, Virginia, drew national attention when white nationalists held a rally there in 2017, a horrific event whose repercussions are still felt today. Confederate monuments such as General Robert E. Lee atop his horse were then still standing. The statues are a constant presence and a metaphoric refrain throughout this collection, though they represent different things to different characters. Some landmarks may have faded from consciousness but provoke fresh outrage when viewed through newly opened eyes.
In “Nearby,” an elderly man and his younger wife watch from their penthouse as protestors gather to oppose the once “heroic” explorers Lewis and Clark depicted towering over their native guide, Sacagawea. A lawyer in “In the Great Southern Tradition” deals with a crisis on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, while his sister and nephew plant tulip bulbs at her stately home.
These are stories of unexpected relationships and affiliations that affirm the value of friendship, even when it requires difficult compromises or unexpected risks. Beattie involves the reader in questions about the nature of community, as the characters grapple with complicated inheritances that are both historical and personal and the realities of their lives interact uneasily with the past.
Praise for Onlookers
“'Powerful' might be too trite a descriptor for Beattie’s new story collection, in which the pieces are fastened together by a common presence: the Confederate monuments that stamp her setting of Charlottesville, Virginia.” —Elle
“Smart and wry . . . measured prose and incisive humor make these stories shine. Once again, Beattie proves herself up to the task of pinpointing America’s contradictions.” —Publishers Weekly
“Sharply focused work from a master of the short fiction form.” —Kirkus
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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