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Boys & Girls in America: Melissa Febos & Hua Hsu

Sat, Nov 5, 2022 from 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm PDT
1111 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97205

General Admission Pass required for entry

Melissa Febos discusses her essay collection Girlhood, a philosophical treatise, an anthem for women, and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, toward a chosen self, with OPB’s Tiffany Camhi; and New Yorker writer Hua Hsu discusses Stay True, a gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, with OPB’s Jenn Chávez.

 

Written with Melissa Febos’ characteristic precision, lyricism, and insight, Girlhood is a philosophical treatise, an anthem for women, and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, toward a chosen self.

When her body began to change at eleven years old, Febos understood immediately that her meaning to other people had changed with it. By her teens, she defined herself based on these perceptions and by the romantic relationships she threw herself into headlong. Over time, Febos increasingly questioned the stories she’d been told about herself and the habits and defenses she’d developed over years of trying to meet others’ expectations. The values she and so many other women had learned in girlhood did not prioritize their personal safety, happiness, or freedom, and she set out to reframe those values and beliefs.

Febos examines the narratives women are told about what it means to be female and what it takes to free oneself from them. Blending investigative reporting, memoir, and scholarship, Febos charts how she and others like her have reimagined relationships and made room for the anger, grief, power, and pleasure women have long been taught to deny.

 

In the eyes of eighteen-year-old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken—with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity—is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the United States for generations, is mainstream; for Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who makes ’zines and haunts Bay Area record shops, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to. The only thing Hua and Ken have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn’t seem to have a place for either of them.

Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos is the bestselling author of four books, including Girlhood—LAMBDA Award finalist and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative. Her fifth book, The Dry Season, is forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf. Her awards and fellowships include those from the Guggenheim Foundation, LAMBDA Literary, the National Endowment for the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The British Library, The Black Mountain Institute, MacDowell, the Bogliasco Foundation, and others. Her work has recently appeared in The Paris Review, The Sun, The New York Times Magazine, Kenyon Review, The Best American Essays, Vogue, and New York Review of Books. Febos is an associate professor at the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City with her wife, the poet Donika Kelly.
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Hua Hsu

Hua Hsu is a staff writer at The New Yorker and an associate professor of English at Vassar College. Hsu serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He was formerly a fellow at the New American foundation and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his family.
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Jenn Chávez

Jenn Chávez is a radio host, announcer and producer with Oregon Public Broadcasting. Jenn has been making radio in Portland for over a decade. Prior to joining OPB in 2017, she hosted and produced the local news radio show “The Five Quadrants of Portland” on XRAY-FM, reporting on issues impacting underrepresented communities. She has a BA in literature and writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She spent her younger days as a film-nerdy video store clerk, and remains a source of unsolicited movie recommendations.
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Tiffany Camhi

Tiffany Camhi is a multimedia journalist focusing on arts, culture and environment reporting. You can hear her throughout the state of Oregon on OPB. She spent six years at KQED Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area as a host, producer, reporter and all-around audio gopher. Tiffany is an alumni of the City University of New York, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. When Tiffany's not on the radio you can usually find her riding a motorcycle...or trying to figure out a way to talk about motorcycles on the radio.
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