Love & Loss: Jasmine Guillory, Danielle Henderson, Devon Walker-Figueroa
Portland Book Festival virtual events, presented by Bank of America, will feature variety-show style interviews. Each night, three authors whose work shares thematic connections will join remotely, and interviewers will be broadcasting live from Portland literary locations. The audience will be tuning in via our custom streaming platform, PDXBookFest.org. Get your virtual festival pass here!
Friday night, we’ll be live from Literary Arts with the theme “Love & Loss.” This evening will feature:
Best-selling author Jasmine Guillory on her new novel, While We Were Dating, in conversation with Kisha Jarrett
Live Wire joins PBF to talk with Danielle Henderson about her memoir The Ugly Cry
Poet Devon Walker-Figueroa discusses her collection Philomath with Jennifer Perrine
This year’s VIRTUAL Festival programming is presented by Bank of America. From November 8–12, Portland Book Festival will feature authors in a variety of virtual events, from live-streamed discussions to podcast and radio broadcasts. Access to the Festival’s virtual platform will be via a sliding scale ($0–$100) pass; one pass includes access to all five days of virtual events. Get your pass here.
MORE ABOUT TONIGHT’S AUTHORS AND THEIR BOOKS:
In Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, we meet Ben Stephens. He has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star, Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little… Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation? When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?
“Jasmine Guillory is the undisputed queen of the modern-day romance, and this novel—in which a budding movie star and the ad guy tasked with making her famous fall hard for one another before encountering life’s many complications—is yet another jewel in her crown.”—Vogue
Abandoned at ten years old by a mother who chose her drug-addicted, abusive boyfriend, Danielle Henderson was raised by grandparents who thought their child-rearing days had ended in the 1960s. She grew up Black, weird, and overwhelmingly uncool in a mostly white neighborhood in upstate New York, which created its own identity crises. Under the eye-rolling, foul-mouthed, loving tutelage of her uncompromising grandmother—and the horror movies she obsessively watched—Danielle grew into a tall, awkward, Sassy-loving teenager who wore black eyeliner as lipstick and was struggling with the aftermath of her mother’s choices. But she also learned that she had the strength and smarts to save herself, her grandmother gifting her a faith in her own capabilities that the world would not have most Black girls possess. With humor, wit, and deep insight, in The Ugly Cry, Danielle shares how she grew up and grew wise—and the lessons she’s carried from those days to these. In the process, she upends our conventional understanding of family and redefines its boundaries to include the millions of people who share her story.
“Danielle Henderson is a wonderful writer, and this clear-eyed look at her complex and flawed childhood did make me cry, as the title promises, but it also made me laugh–that is the beauty of a life well told. I look forward to recommending The Ugly Cry to memoir-lovers, to mall-lovers, to tough grandma-lovers, to tough-sister-lovers–to everyone, really.” —Emma Straub, bestselling author of All Adults Here
With Devon Walker-Figueroa as our Virgil, we begin in the collection’s eponymous town of Philomath, Oregon. We drift through the general store, into the Nazarene Church, past people plucking at the brambles of a place that won’t let them go. We move beyond the town into fields and farmland—and further still, along highways, into a cursed Californian town, a museum in Florence. An explorer at the edge of the sublime, Walker-Figueroa writes in quiet awe of nature, of memory, and of a beauty that is “merely existence carrying on and carrying on.” In her wanderings, she guides readers toward a kind of witness that doesn’t flinch from the bleak or bizarre. For in Philomath, it is the poet’s (sometimes reluctant) obligation “to keep an eye / on what is left” of the people and places that have impacted us. And there is always something left, whether it is the smell of burnt grapes, a twelfth-century bronze, or even a lock of hair.
“In Philomath, Devon Walker-Figueroa, with rare insight, writes an American so absolutely American it has been forgotten by America, an America so American one can’t believe it exists unless one has lived there, and if one has lived there one recognizes it everywhere. Walker-Figueroa sees not only beyond our ideas about ourselves, but all the way to us being ourselves. Hers are the truest poems being written.” —Shane McCrae, author of Sometimes I Never Suffered
This year’s VIRTUAL Festival programming is presented by Bank of America. Access to the Festival’s virtual platform will be via a sliding scale ($0–$100) pass; one pass includes access to all five days of virtual events. Get your pass here.