August 6, 2020

Andrew Martin and Benjamin Nugent

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes acclaimed writers ANDREW MARTIN and BENJAMIN NUGENT for a discussion of their latest short story collections, Cool for America and Fraternity.

Details

The collection is bookended by the misadventures of Leslie, a young woman (first introduced in Early Work) who moves from New York to Missoula, Montana to try to draw herself out of a lingering depression, and, over the course of the book, gains painful insight into herself through a series of intense friendships and relationships.

Other stories follow young men and women, alone and in couples, pushing hard against, and often crashing into, the limits of their abilities as writers and partners. In one story, two New Jersey siblings with substance-abuse problems relapse together on Christmas Eve; in another, a young couple tries to make sense of an increasingly unhinged veterinarian who seems to be tapping, deliberately or otherwise, into the unspoken troubles between them. In tales about characters as they age from punk shows and benders to book clubs and art museums, the promise of community acts—at least temporarily—as a stay against despair.

Running throughout Cool for America is the characters’ yearning for transcendence through art: the hope that, maybe, the perfect, or even just the good-enough sentence, can finally make things right.

About Author(s)

Andrew Martin’s first novel Early Work was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and a finalist for the Cabell First Novelist Award. His stories and essays have been published in The Paris Review, the New York Review of BooksHarper’s, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. He lives in New York with his partner, Laura, and their dog, Bonnie.

Benjamin Nugent is the winner of The Paris Review’s 2019 Terry Southern Prize. His stories have been published in The Best American Short StoriesThe Best American Nonrequired Reading, and The Unprofessionals: New American Writing from The Paris Review. Nugent has also written for n+1, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and Time.