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Sunday, October 1 • 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Mysteries, Love and Grief in the Given World

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Marian Palaia reads from 

Marian Palaia
was born to wander. She was raised in Riverside, California, and Washington, DC., but since then the USPS has periodically forwarded her mail to Montana, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Nepal (where she was a Peace Corps volunteer) and eventually to San Francisco where she now lives. To support her writing Marian has worked as a truck driver, bartender and logger. The Given World, Marian's first novel, traces the wanderings of a troubled Montana teen through the streets of San Francisco during the post-Vietnam War era, and over to Saigon and back.

On The Given World:
“Nothing, nobody really goes away—not once they’ve infiltrated your life. No matter how many brain cells you drench in rocket fuel and hold your little lit Zippo to.”

Montana in the 60s on an isolated family farm; late nights and early mornings in 70s and 80s San Francisco; an emergent Saigon in the 90s; San Francisco, again, in time for cellphones, stock options and AIDS. And home—wherever that is—at a time and in a condition to be determined. At the heart of this book is a place we mostly identify with a war played out nightly on black and white TV, but it is not about war. It is about surviving immense loss, about a Montana girl and a motley band of co-gypsies, seeking to find, and define, home and family. It is about “bad behavior”—how it starts, and how it ends. What is set in motion by one casualty cascades, over the years, into others.

When she is 13, the army loses Riley’s brother Mick, a “tunnel rat” in Vietnam, and her life goes off the rails. Rescue, in the form of a boy from a nearby reservation, appears, but not for long. Hoping to beat the crappy odds and discover the ocean she’s always dreamt of, Riley heads west to San Francisco, and from there to Saigon. She encounters, sometimes attempts to rescue, and is as often rescued by an itinerant posse of the dispossessed. Taking their pain out mostly on themselves, they line a switch-backed trail that will lead Riley (if she survives them) to something along the lines of redemption.

Sandra Scofield will read from Mysteries of Love and Grief (November 2015), a book about her grandmother’s life.  Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.
            Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.

avatar for Marian Palaia

Marian Palaia

Marian Palaia’s first novel, The Given World, (Simon and Schuster, 2015) was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Prize for Fiction, longlisted for The PEN/Bingham First Novel Prize, a finalist for the VCU/Cabell Award, and recognized by Kirkus as a Best Novel of 2015. She... Read More →
avatar for Sandra Scofield

Sandra Scofield

Sandra Scofield is the author of 11 books: seven novels (including a National Book Award finalist); a memoir, Occasions of Sin; a book of essays about family, Mysteries of Love and Grief; a craft book, The Scene Book; and most recently, Swim: Stories of the Sixties. The Last Draft... Read More →

Sunday October 1, 2017 12:00pm - 1:15pm MDT
Fact & Fiction

Attendees (3)