The Writer’s Center welcomes essayist James J. Patterson (Junk Shop Window) and novelist Aaron Hamburger (Hotel Cuba) for a reading and discussion of their brand new books. Moderated by Zach Powers. Book signing and reception to follow.
Free and open to the public, limited space, registration required.
James J. Patterson was born in Washington DC, five days before Nixon’s infamous “Checkers Speech.” He’s been lurking about in what he calls “The Capital of the Empire” ever since. As “Jimmy Pheromone” he crisscrossed north America 200 nights a year, writing and performing songs with the satirical art-folk duo, The Pheromones, playing what they called “Pop-Relevant Cabaret.” The ‘Mones were famous the world over for songs such as Yuppie Drone, Grace In The World, This Speech Is Free, and The Galactic Funny Farm. Patterson was the founder and publisher of SportsFan Magazine for ten years, reporting on and fighting for the rights of sports fans everywhere. Today he’s that friendly fellow sitting next to you on the subway, or at the ball game, or by the bar, ready to strike up a conversation. He wants to hear a story. Tell him a good one. He might just write it down.
Aaron Hamburger is the author of the story collection The View from Stalin’s Head which was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and nominated for a Violet Quill Award. He has also written three novels: Faith for Beginners, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, Nirvana Is Here, winner of a Bronze Medal from the 2019 Foreword Reviews Indies Book Awards, and Hotel Cuba. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, Tin House, Michigan Quarterly Review, Subtropics, Crazyhorse, Boulevard, Poets & Writers, Tablet, O, the Oprah Magazine, and many others. He has also won fellowships from Yaddo, Djerassi, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. He has taught creative writing at Columbia University, the George Washington University, New York University, Brooklyn College, and the Stonecoast MFA Program.
About Junk Shop Window
In the world of Junk Shop Window, nothing is quite what it seems. A visit to the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere, England, results in a meeting with a telepathic dog. A trip to see the Irish Rovers on St. Patrick’s Day becomes slapstick worthy of the I Love Lucy show. An attempt to record the right background sounds for a Sherlock Holmes radio play opens a doorway in time to the world of a century ago. And Hermes, the messenger god, appears in various guises, relaying sometimes cryptic, sometime life-saving messages.
In these pages, Patterson offers us a curiosity shop of the mind, in which everyday encounters yield unexpected gems. Seen through this author’s eyes, our contemporary world is full of portals into myth and history, leading to serious questions about the nature of time itself. Add a little alchemy, a dash of metaphysics, some scholarship, and some well-earned humor, and you’re inside Junk Shop Window, where every experience gleams with insight, and the world is at once more strange and more deeply beautiful than you ever knew.
About Hotel Cuba
From the award-winning author of The View from Stalin’s Head, a stunning novel about two sheltered Russian Jewish sisters, desperate to get to America to make a new life, who find themselves trapped in the sultry, hedonistic world of 1920s Havana.
Fleeing the chaos of World War I and the terror of the Soviet Revolution, practical, sensible Pearl Kahn and her lovestruck, impulsive younger sibling Frieda sail for America to join their sister in New York. But discriminatory new immigration laws bar their entry, and the young women are turned back at Ellis Island. With few options, Pearl and Frieda head for Havana, Cuba, convinced they will find a way to overcome this setback.
At first, life in big-city Prohibition-era Havana is overwhelming, like nothing Pearl and Frieda have ever experienced—or could have ever imagined in the rural shtetl where they grew up. As the sisters begin to adjust, their plans for going to America together become complicated. Frieda falls for the not-so-dreamy man of her dreams while Pearl’s life opens up unexpectedly, offering her a taste of freedom and heady romance, and an opportunity to build a future on her own terms. Though to do so, she must confront her past and the shame she has long carried.
A heartbreaking, epic family story, Hotel Cuba explores the profound courage of two women displaced from their home who strive to create a new future in an enticing and dangerous world far different from anything they have ever known.