Powell’s Dishes Up Local Lit
There’s nothing quite like reading to a hometown crowd to make a person feel all warm and fuzzy–both the author and the audience. Portland authors and long-time friends Scott Nadelson and Jay Ponteri launched their Love Will Tear Us Apart Book Tour at Powell’s Friday night and there was lots of hugging, kissing, and ear-to-ear grinning going on by friends, family, students, and fellow writers who showed up by the dozens. There also was rapt attention, and thunderous applause. Only gonna happen in your hometown guys.
The audience got a double dose of soul-bearing, and painfully honest portrayals of lives in transition, of guys on journeys through the darker points in their lives, and of frankly what would be really embarrassing revelations for most of us. But for a memoirist, it is de rigueur, and Scott and Jay bravely bared all to give us a taste of what’s in store if you read their latest books. By the way, both of these books were published by Portland’s Hawthorne Books which made this night even more special.
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The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress by Scott Nadelson
“Beginning in the summer of 2004, Scott Nadelson’s life fell apart. His fiancée left him a month before their planned wedding. He moved into a drafty attic. His car’s brakes went out. He learned that his cat was dying. Over the next two years, he’d struggle, with equivocal and sometimes humiliating results, to get back on his feet, in the process re-examining his past to understand his present circumstances. More than a collection of autobiographical essays, The Next Scott Nadelson is a literary self-portrait that revolves around the dissolution of a relationship but encompasses the long process of a young man’s halting self-discovery. Exploring episodes from the life of its author/narrator marked by failure, suffering, and hope, as well as literary and cultural influence, the book weighs the things that make us want to give up against the things that keep us going. Though many of the pieces are comic and self-deprecating – some self-lacerating – they are above all meditations on the nature of the self and the way it can be constructed through memory, desire, and the imagination. Together they form a larger narrative, a search for fulfillment and identity in a life often governed by fear. With humor and unflinching honesty, Nadelson scrutinizes his life to discover who he is and finds just how elusive such a discovery can be. To read the resulting book is to join him on a personal journey that is thoughtful, surprising, occasionally hilarious, and unapologetically human.”
Nadelson is the author of three other collections: Saving Stanley: The Brickman Stories, winner of the Oregon Book Award for Short Fiction and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award; The Cantor’s Daughter, which was the recipient of the Samuel Goldberg & Sons Fiction Prize for Emerging Jewish Writers and the Reform Judaism Fiction Prize; and Aftermath.
Wedlocked by Jay Ponteri
“Married writer Jay Ponteri finds himself infatuated with a woman other than his wife and writes a manuscript to explore his feelings. Discovery of this manuscript understandably strains his marriage. Wedlocked offers readers an intimate, idiosyncratic view of a human institution that can so often fail, leaving its inhabitants lonely and adrift. The narrator struggles with living deep inside his thoughts and dreams while yearning to be known and loved by either woman in his life. For many marrieds, attraction to people other than their spouses has long been a classic refrain, and even President Jimmy Carter famously admitted to Playboy, ‘I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times … The guy who’s loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.’ Ponteri lays bare his inner life and in doing so provides all of us in monogamous relationships rich material to consider.”
Jay Ponteri directs the undergraduate creative writing program and Show:Tell, the Workshop for Teen Writers & Artists, both at Marylhurst University. His work has been published recently in Forklift, Ohio, Del Sol Review, Salamander, Puerto Del Sol, and Tin House, among others. His essay “Listen to This” was mentioned as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2010.
Hawthorne Books, 2013