Upcoming Virtual Event

Virtual Event: Carter Sickels

presents

The Prettiest Star:
A Novel

in conversation with ELIZABETH CHILES SHELBURNE

Date

Jul
13
Monday
July 13, 2020
7:00 PM

Location

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.

Tickets

Free - $3 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store welcomes novelist CARTER SICKELS—author of Lambda Literary Award finalist The Evening Hour—for a discussion of his latest novel, The Prettiest Star. He will be joined in conversation by acclaimed local novelist ELIZABETH CHILES SHELBURNE. Her debut novel, Holding on to Nothing, is available for purchase here.

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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of The Prettiest Star on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.

 

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About The Prettiest Star

Small-town Appalachia doesn't have a lot going for it, but it’s where Brian is from, where his family is, and where he’s chosen to return to die.

At eighteen, Brian, like so many other promising young gay men, arrived in New York City without much more than a love for the freedom and release from his past that it promised. But within six short years, AIDS would claim his lover, his friends, and his future. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to write his mother a letter asking to come back to the place, and family, he was once so desperate to escape.

Set in 1986, a year after Rock Hudson’s death shifted the public consciousness of the epidemic and brought the news of AIDS into living rooms and kitchens across America, The Prettiest Star is part Dog Years by Mark Doty and part Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. But it is also an urgent story now: it a novel about the politics and fragility of the body; it is a novel about sex and shame. And it is a novel that speaks to the question of what home and family means when we try to forge a life for ourselves in a world that can be harsh and unpredictable. It is written at the far reaches of love and understanding, and zeroes in on the moments where those two forces reach for each other, and sometimes touch.

Praise for The Prettiest Star

"Get ready for your heart to explode into an entire cosmos. Carter Sickels's The Prettiest Star is the story of a young man who must drag his body from the mouth of death back to the "home" that nearly killed him. The story of a queer desiring body moving through the crucibles of life toward song, toward rewriting family and whatever we mean by home, toward a kind of hope that comes from the dirt up and not the sky down. A heart triumph."  —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

"The Prettiest Star is a lyrical and compulsively readable novel about the intricate, tangled bonds of family and the way human beings can be both profoundly cruel and surprisingly wonderful. These characters are people we know, and they'll stay with me for a very long time. This deeply moving novel is much more than the story of one family dealing with the worst tragedy of their lives in a small Ohio town in 1986. It's the story of all of us—the story of America, then and now, how far we've come, and how far we still have to go." —Silas House, author of Southernmost

"With the most inviting prose imaginable, Carter Sickels has written a beautiful, heartstring-tugging story about a young man searching for peace, and the family that loves him through thick and thin. The Prettiest Star is a novel I'll never forget." —De'Shawn Charles Winslow, author of In West Mills

Carter Sickels
Carter Sickels

Carter Sickels

Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, and has been awarded scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, VCCA, and the MacDowell Colony. His essays and fiction have appeared in various publications, including Guernica, Bellevue Literary Review, and BuzzFeed, and he is the editor of Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity. Carter is Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers Studio Low-Residency MFA program.

Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne

Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne

Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne grew up reading, writing, and shooting in East Tennessee. After graduating from Amherst College, she became a writer and a staff editor at the Atlantic Monthly. Her nonfiction work has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Globe, and Globalpost, among others. Her essay on how killing a deer made her a feminist was published in Click! When We Knew We Were Feminists, edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan. She worked on Holding On To Nothing in Grub Street’s year-long Novel Incubator course, under Michelle Hoover and Lisa Borders. She lives outside Boston with her husband and four children.

Photo credit: Karen Kelly Photography

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
General Info
(617) 661-1515
info@harvard.com

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