Literary Programme 2017

Dean Bakopoulos & Alissa Nutting

Dean Bakopoulos & Alissa Nutting

Dean Bakopoulos
Alissa Nutting

Bantry Library

Mon 17 July 2017



We are delighted that American writers Dean Bakopoulos and Alissa Nutting are both joining us from Grinnell, Iowa this summer to read from their latest novels and to speak about what it is like to live and write in the US in 2017.

Dean Bakopoulos’ Summerlong is a deft and hilarious exploration of the simmering tensions beneath the surface of a contented marriage which explode in the bedrooms and backyards of a small town over the course of a long, hot summer.

In the sweltering heat of one summer in a small Midwestern town, Claire and Don Lowry discover that married life isn’t quite as they’d predicted. One night Don, a father of three, leaves his house for an evening stroll, only to wake up the next morning stoned, and sleeping in a hammock next to a young woman he barely knows. His wife, Claire, leaves the house on this same night to go on a midnight run—only to find herself bumming cigarettes and beer outside the all-night convenience store.

As the summer lingers and the temperature rises, this quotidian town’s adults grow wilder and more reckless while their children grow increasingly confused. Claire, Don, and their neighbors and friends find themselves on an existential odyssey, exploring the most puzzling quandaries of marriage and maturity. When does a fantasy become infidelity? When does compromise become resentment? When does routine become boring monotony? Can Claire and Don survive everything that befalls them in this one summer, forgive their mistakes, and begin again?

Summerlong is the Great White Midlife Crisis novel that Jonathan Franzen has tried to write (and failed) and Jonathan Lethem has tried to write (and failed) and Michael Chabon (wisely) half-avoided every trying to write. But Dean Bakopoulos pulls it off.’ – NPR

Dean Bakopoulos’ first novel, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was a New York Times Notable Book and was named the best novel of 2005 by The Friends of American Writers; he co-wrote the screenplay adaptation of the novel, soon-to-be-released as a film starring James Franco and Rashida Jones. His second novel, My American Unhappiness (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), was named one of the year’s best novels by The Chicago Tribune, and his third novel, Summerlong (Ecco/HarperCollins), was an independent bookstore bestseller and is now in development as a feature film based on Dean’s original screenplay. His fiction, essays, and op-eds have appeared in Zoetrope, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, Real Simple, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Dean is writer-in-residence at Grinnell College in Iowa, and also teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. He is at work on a fourth novel, Pine, and a collection of essays, Undoing, a portion of which earned Dean a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; he previously won a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 2006 for fiction.

Alissa Nutting’s Made for Love is a poignant, riotously funny story of how far some will go for love—and how far some will go to escape it. Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. Life with Hazel’s father is strained at best, but her only alternative seems even bleaker. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. For over a decade, Hazel put up with being veritably quarantined by Byron in the family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. But when he demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips in a first-ever human “mind-meld,” Hazel decides what was once merely irritating has become unbearable. The world she escapes into is a far cry from the dry and clinical bubble she’s been living in, a world populated with a whole host of deviant oddballs.

As Hazel tries to carve out a new life for herself in this uncharted territory, Byron is using the most sophisticated tools at his disposal to find her and bring her home. His threats become more and more sinister, and Hazel is forced to take drastic measures in order to find a home of her own and free herself from Byron’s virtual clutches once and for all. Perceptive and compulsively readable, Made for Love is at once an absurd, raunchy comedy and a dazzling, profound meditation marriage, monogamy, and family.

Alissa Nutting is author of the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, selected by judge Ben Marcus as winner of the 6th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the novel, Tampa, (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2013). Her new novel Made for Love is forthcoming from Ecco in July 2017. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Fence, BOMB, Elle, The New York Times, Conduit, and O: The Oprah Magazine, as well as the fairy tale anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. She holds an MFA from the University of Alabama, and a PhD from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She is currently at work on two television pilots and is an assistant professor of English at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Dean is also teaching our five-day Novel Writing workshop and Alissa is teaching our five-day Short Story Writing workshop from Monday 17 to Friday 21 July.

Dean and Alissa’s participation in the festival is supported by the Grinnell Institute for Global Engagement