July Readings at New Dominion Bookshop

Coming up: Two Readings and Book-signings at New Dominion Bookshop

Thursday, July 16, 12:15 PM: Joanna Beth Tweedy, The Yonder Side of Sass and Texas

Friday, July 17, 12:15 PM: Peter Selgin, Life Goes to the Movies

Joanna Beth Tweedy will discuss her debut novel

The Yonder Side of Sass and Texas

Thursday, July 16 at 12:15 PM

Raised deep in the Shawnee Hills amid hogback bluffs, a roundabout river, and unending family, two divergent sisters share a colorful journey: first through childhood in a place both blessed and cursed by the hybrid footprints of the Appalachia and Ozark regions surrounding it, and then into the wide world beyond, compelled by their shared wanderlust.

Arkansas (Sass) and Texas MacTerptin weave the tender backroads of youth, protected and exposed by their fertile home-soil in a sunken part of a foothilled fraction of the world where seasons are still sacred as a river, and roads with crooks and creeks in their names are the chosen routes. Catechized Catholic in the midst of Baptist brimstone, backporch fiddle-fire, and backwoods corn-shine, the girls are heavily influenced by the lower-cased catholicity of their spitfire French granny.

When travels land them on the yonder side of fugitive grace, the sisters discover that the sheltered bluffs of their youth are vastly removed from the broad ground beyond. Mapping their way through the wrinkles of exploration and Mystery, they find themselves on a truly foreign journey, separated from familiarity by an ocean. By way of the gravitational tug of home that dwells without end deep in the folds of notion, the sisters realize amid their travels the depth of native soil and its tangle of roots.

“Joanna Beth Tweedy has conjured up a world as familiar as childhood memories and as strange as the Sahara. The prose crackles like a splash of water on a hot skillet and there’s a surprise on every page.” — Robert Hellenga

Joanna Beth Tweedy, an ardent foreign-adventurist with chronic and gravitational home-soil leanings, was born and raised in Little Egypt—the southernmost region of Illinois leapfrogged betwixt the Ozarks and Appalachia, whose geography belongs to the former and idiom to the latter. Joanna Beth’s work gives voice to this distinct region and its sundry wonders both merciless and steeped in grace.

Tweedy’s poetry and fiction have been published in literary journals and anthologies and have received honors from Glimmer Train, the Southern Women Writers Conference, Alsop Review, New Millennium Writing, the Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest, and Long Story Short. Past readings and speaking engagements have taken place in Cambridge, Louisville, and St. Louis.

With degrees in education and English from the Universities of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Springfield (UIS), Joanna Beth has taught creative writing, literature, and educational leadership, and has served as faculty-in-residence for the Capital Scholars Honors Program at UIS. She is presently an associate dean of academic affairs at Benedictine University in Springfield, where she is also the founding editor and host of Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public-Radio Program in partnership with Illinois Public Radio’s hub-station, WUIS.

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Peter Selgin will discuss his novel

Life Goes to the Movies

Friday, July 17 at 12:15 PM

“Dwaine grabs my hand and holds it. He does it nonchalantly, the way you might pick up a bright shell from the beach. I don’t say a thing or react in any way, I’m too surprised to react. After a while it seems perfectly natural, him holding my hand that way, like we’ve been holding hands forever, since we were five years old, like we were born to hold hands, Dwaine and I.”

When Vietnam-veteran-turned-filmmaker Dwaine Fitzgibbon (“D for Death, W for War, A for Anarchy, I for Insane, N for Nightmare, and E for the End of the World”) takes Nigel DePoli under his wing to teach him about movies and life, Nigel thinks he’s found the perfect antidote to his small-town, immigrant child’s upbringing. But Dwaine is arguably insane, and the greatest movie they’ll ever collaborate on is the one he produces in Nigel’s gullible, hero-addled mind.

Their erotically tinged friendship is the subject of what one sly reader has called an “anti-homophobic” novel, a bond strengthened but also tested by their mutual love for Veronica “Venus” Dwiggins, a beautiful albino costume designer. With Dwaine less and less able or willing to distinguish between reality and cinema, Nigel must choose between sanity and loyalty. The story climaxes with Nigel’s gambit to rescue Dwaine from the psychiatric ward where he has taken flight, a scheme involving a considerable budget, a cast and crew of hospitalized V-vets, and the world’s most famous soft-drink.

“Life Goes to the Movies is the irresistible account of a passionate friendship between two young men, both star-struck by art. Selgin’s vivid account of New York in the 1970s, his richly complex characters, his encyclopedic knowledge of film and his sense of how small the gap is between good luck and bad make this an utterly absorbing novel. A wonderful read.”

Peter Selgin’s first book of short stories, Drowning Lessons (University of Georgia Press, 2008) won the Flannery O’Connor Award. His book on writing, By Cunning & Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers, was published by Writer’s Digest Books. His stories and essays have appeared in dozens of publications, including Salon, The Sun, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Missouri Review, Boulevard, Poets & Writers, Colorado Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review, and in the anthologies Our Roots Are Deep With Passion (Other Books, 2006), Writing Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2005), and Best American Essays 2006. He edits the journal Alimentum: The Literature of Food, and leads an annual writing workshop in Vitorchiano, Italy.

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