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Self-Portrait: Memoir, Auto-fiction, and History

Sat, Nov 9, 2019 from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
1111 SW Broadway Ave Portland, Oregon 97205

Three books that combine and move between personal and collective histories to probe both the past and present. Part history, part memoir, Debra Gwartney’s I Am a Stranger Here Myself taps the deepest dimensions of human yearning: the need to belong, the snarl of family history, and embracing womanhood in the patriarchal American West. An electrifying, dazzlingly written reckoning and an essential addition to the national conversation about race and class, Survival Math takes its name from the calculations award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson made to survive the Portland, Oregon of his youth. In Peter Rock’s autobiographical novel The Night Swimmers, the narrator tries to understand the months he spent, as a young man, swimming with a young widow. He digs through old notebooks and letters, clippings and quotations trying to rebuild the world he’s lost. Moderated by Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses.

Advance Portland Book Festival passes available now.

Debra Gwartney

Debra Gwartney is the winner of the 2018 RiverTeeth Nonfiction Prize, judged by Gretel Ehrlich, for her memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself. Her 2009 memoir, Live Through This, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and the Oregon Book Award. Debra has published in such journals as Granta, Tin House, American Scholar, The Normal School, Creative Nonfiction, Prairie Schooner, Triquarterly Review, the NYT "Modern Love" column, among others. She is the 2018 winner of the Real Simple essay contest and is a contributing editor at Poets & Writers magazine. She has received fellowships from Hedgebrook, Playa, UCross, and the Wurlitzer Foundation. She teaches in the MFA Program at Pacific University and lives in Western Oregon with her husband, the writer Barry Lopez.
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Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His honors include a Whiting Award and fellowships from the Cullman Center of the New York Public Library, TED, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN, NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts), and the Center for Fiction. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The Guardian, and elsewhere. The author of Survival Math is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.
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Peter Rock

Peter Rock is the author of the novels The Night Swimmers, SPELLS, Klickitat, The Shelter Cycle, My Abandonment, The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves and This Is the Place, as well as a story collection, The Unsettling. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Alex Award and others, he is a Professor in the English Department of Reed College. 
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Elena Passarello

Elena Passarello is an actor, essayist, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Paris Review, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018, and has been translated into German, Italian, French, and Mandarin. She is the author of the essay collections Let Me Clear My Throat and Animals Strike Curious Poses, the latter of which won the 2018 Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction and made the Best Books of 2017 lists in the New York Times, Guardian, and Publisher's Weekly. Passarello teaches creative writing at Oregon State University and appears weekly on the nationally-syndicated PRI radio variety show LiveWire!. Visit her online at elenapassarello.com.
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