Skillfully Reinventing Familiar Narratives

Fri 16 Jun 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Telling the Map coverIt’s what Christopher Rowe has been doing for lo these some years now and soon enough there in every bookstore in the nation will be his collection of stories and those familiar but reinvented narratives will be spreading like wildfire. The week of publication will be celebrated throughout Kentucky but specifically in the author’s hometown of Lexington with these events:

Tuesday July 11th, 7 p.m.: Launch Party at Joseph-Beth Booksellers with drinks and snacks. Richard Butner will interview the author followed by a Q&A and a signing.

Friday July 14th: This, as Christopher pointed out, is Bastille Day. It is also Alumni Day at Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University MFA program’s summer residency in Richmond, KY, so Christopher Rowe will be reading for the students on campus in the afternoon and at 5 p.m. Rowe plus a number of alums with will do a reading. New Lexington pop-up bookseller Brier Books will sell books.

Saturday, July 15th, 8 a.m. til 1 p.m.: Lexington Farmer’s Market Homegrown Authors. Rowe will be there from  manning a table, talking to people, hopefully selling some books. Note that one scene in “Nowhere Fast” is set at this very farmer’s market, in this very spot. Again, books provided by Brier Books.

What’s the book about? Lemme let the professionals at Publishers Weekly cover that:

“In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know, remaking regions of the southern United States. Appalachian settings, recurring characters, and dystopian themes of societal degradation link the stories. In “The Voluntary State,” a band of marauders from Kentucky attack a painter named Soma’s car and kidnap him. Japheth Sapp, the leader of the captors, recruits Soma in a plan to sneak into Nashville and kill Athena Parthenus, the governor of Tennessee. Meanwhile, Jenny, a mechanic, reunites Soma with his repaired (and sentient) vehicle. All paths converge in an explosive conclusion. In “The Border State,” twin cyclists Maggie and Michael Hammersmith set off on a bike race across Kentucky. Their ride takes them along a river and the Girding Wall, which isolates Athena’s Tennessee. The race evolves into a search for their missing father, and a hunt for answers to mysterious messages from their mother, who drowned in a flash flood 20 years earlier. Rowe skillfully reinvents familiar narratives and widens common story lines into a world where anything seems possible. Wild creativity, haunting imagery, and lyricism—as displayed in “Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms”—urge readers forward even as the pacing slows to provide needed exposition. While at times the poetic syntax of the sentences hampers comprehension, the book offers an immersive and original reading experience.

 

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