Blair Hurley and Christopher Castellani
This event includes a book signing
June 4, 2019
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and GrubStreet welcome Pushcart Prize–winning novelist BLAIR HURLEY and former Guggenheim Fellow and novelist CHRISTOPHER CASTELLANI for a discussion of their respective books, The Devoted and Leading Men.
About The Devoted
A spellbinding confession of what it means to abandon one life for another, The Devoted asks what it takes, and what you’ll sacrifice, to find enlightenment.
Nicole Hennessy’s life revolves around her Zen practice at the Boston Zendo, seeking solace in the tenets of Buddhism to the chagrin of her Irish Catholic family. After a decade of grueling spiritual practice under her Master’s tutelage, living on a shoestring budget as a shop clerk, Nicole has become dangerously entangled with her mentor. As Nicole confronts her past―a drug-fueled year spent fleeing her family’s loaded silences and guilt-laden "Our Fathers"―and reinvents herself in New York City, her Master’s intoxicating voice pursues her, an electrifying whisper on the other end of the phone. Somehow, he knows everything.
In deft, soaring prose that bristles with psychological and erotic tension, Blair Hurley crafts a thrilling exploration of Nicole’s ecstatic quest for spirituality.
About Leading Men
In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives.
Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film icon Anja Bloom, lives as a recluse in the present-day U.S., until a young man connected to the events of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams's final play.
What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can't save ourselves? Like The Master and The Hours, Leading Men seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to navigate the tensions between public figures and their private lives. In an ultimately heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the complex negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness, Castellani creates an unforgettable leading lady in Anja Bloom and reveals the hidden machinery of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth century.
Praise for The Devoted
"A rich and entertaining novel about a woman, a seeker, whose life, existence and relationships are all centered around a devout Buddhist mediation practice in Boston―until they aren’t. I couldn’t put it down.” ―Anne Lamott, “Favorite Reads of 2018”
“[An] intimate, fluid debut . . . The beauty of The Devoted lies in its intricate descriptions of religion’s hush and ritual.” —New York Times Book Review
“The Devoted, Blair Hurley’s stunning literary debut, pushes the boundaries of the traditional coming-of-age novel, offering instead a haunting, provocative tale of self-discovery and transformation in the fallout of exploitation and devastating loss. . . . Hurley is a gifted author who writes with startling beauty and tenderness, one heightened by a fierce, unwavering clarity.” —Brooklyn Rail
Praise for Leading Men
"Leading Men is a daredevil of a novel, like the prettiest boy in the gay bar doing a backflip off a stool and not spilling his drink. Castellani has set his eye on that ineffable profane that is the other face of the divine, in a novel that unites my obsessions with Tennessee Williams, Luchino Visconti, Truman Capote, film, cruising, and Italy, and wraps it up in a love story, but a story of old love—love of a kind we almost never see written." —Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
“Gorgeous and sweeping . . . [a] sumptuous work of historical fiction . . . [Leading Men] manages to capture the lightning of these massive artistic figures on the page with such force, it does feel as if you have tiptoed around Williams’s desk in Rome while he was busy writing a masterpiece.” —Interview
“Leading Men is a finely-rendered narrative . . . broad in scope and lush in detail, without every tipping into sentimentality. [A] compassionate snapshot of a bygone era and a beautiful, if tragic, story of love and remembrance.” —Lambda Literary
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.
Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.
While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
- Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.
Ordering a signed book by phone:
- Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
- If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.
Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.
Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!
Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.
I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.
More questions? Give us a call!
Harvard Book Store's New Voices in Fiction series, presented with GrubStreet, highlights debut fiction writers discussing their work and the writing process.
GrubStreet is one of the nation's leading creative writing centers, offering 500+ classes a year in all genres, for writers of all levels. We believe that narrative transforms lives, builds bridges, and produces empathy. By rigorously developing voices of every type and talent and by removing barriers to entry, GrubStreet fosters the creation of meaningful stories and ensures that excellent writing remains vital and relevant. To learn more or find a class, visit grubstreet.org.
Featured event books will be for sale at the event. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!
Shipping & Pickup
We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!Learn More »
Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!
Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.Learn More »