Next week, for our first event of the spring season, Jung Yun will be in town to discuss her fantastic novel O Beautiful. I couldn’t be looking forward to this book talk more.
This was one of my favorite reads of 2022 for a couple reasons, including the protagonist, who is unlike any fictional heroine I’ve met. A quick synopsis: Now in her forties, newly minted journalist Elinor Hanson returns home to North Dakota to write about the impact of the oil boom on the small towns there. Elinor is complex—both tough and vulnerable, ambitious and self-destructive, like many women I know in real life, and I can’t wait to talk to Jung about how she managed to craft such a realistic and compelling heroine.
I also love the way this novel refuses to make villains out of ordinary people, or to take sides in the complicated arguments over ownership and belonging the oil boom exacerbated in small towns suddenly overrun with itinerant workers. Race, class, gender, and violence are considered thoughtfully and with empathy, broadening the conversation, rather than shutting it down. For more pre-game prep, click through to my interview with Jung in the Talbot Spy. And don’t forget to reserve your seat! Sign up here for a special evening.
What Else I’m Reading this Month
The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett. This elegant novel is about twins, identity, racial passing, and choices you can’t take back. Trying desperately to finish in time for the TEDI bookclub meeting at the library on Thursday, Feb. 2!
The Crane Wife, CJ Hauser. The title essay (which went viral back in 2019) examines the ending of a love story through the lens of the famous folk tale. This brainy, poignant collection expands beautifully on that premise.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin. 2022’s most celebrated novel lives up to the hype. Come for themes of friendship, collaboration, and creativity, delightfully explored; stay for the ‘90s video game nostalgia. Bonus: The audiobook narrator is terrific.
What Else I’m Looking Forward to on the Shore this Month
Art Opening: Clarity @ The Foundry, Denton
3:00-5:00 Friday, Feb 3
Artist Rose Jeon contemplates the importance of self expression in more than 50 artworks created during their three-month residency at the Foundry.
Lecture: Bear Me Into Freedom with Jeffrey C. McGuiness @ Talbot Historical Society, Easton
1:00 Wednesday, Feb. 1
Free for THS members; $5 non-members
The photographer discusses his project documenting/re-imagining the landscape of Frederick Douglass’s Talbot County.
Theater: Tred Avon Players present Time Stands Still @ Oxford Community Center, Oxford
$25 general admission; $15 students
This contemporary drama, which revolves around a photojournalist injured in the Iraq war and her reporter boyfriend, won Laura Linney a Tony nod back in 2010.
Artist Talk: Cheryl Warrick @ Academy Art Museum, Easton
5:30 Saturday Feb. 18
Known for organic forms and abstract maximalism, the artist will discuss the work currently on view in AAM’s Abstract Surge exhibition.
Film: African American Film Festival @ Cinema Art Theater, Lewes
$10 per film general admission; $5 for students
Back after a COVID hiatus, the AAFF screens feature-length and short documentaries spotlighting African American culture. Of note: A Most Beautiful Thing, about the first African American high school rowing team in the country, and a local news segment on black watermen of the Chesapeake.
Easton-based Kerry Folan is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She is also the founder and director of Shore Lit, an organization that aims to bring literary events to the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the Baltimore Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Washington Post, and other noted publications.
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