Red Hen Press Reading with Alan Lightman, Ellen Meeropol, & Amy Hassinger — in the Remainder Room
Lightman is a physicist, essayist, and novelist. As Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at MIT, he’s the first person to receive a joint appointment in the sciences and the humanities. Now this versatile writer dramatizes both reason and intuition in a book-length narrative poem, Song of Two Worlds. Told in the first person by a man struggling to come to terms with devastating loss, the work is divided into two sections. “Questions with Answers,” reflecting the scientific method, follows the narrator’s effort to reason his way out of grief, while in “Questions without Answers” he turns to art and faith to find a very different way of understanding life’s intractable mysteries.
In her third novel, Kinship of Clover, Meeropol, a founding member of the Straw Dogs Writers Guild and author of On Hurricane Island, explores the fine distinctions between radical activism that can save the planet and eco-terrorism that may only perpetuate human destruction. The narrative follows Jeremy, a botany student, whose passion for plants seems requited by the flora themselves. When he joins fringe groups planning an ambitious Earth Day action, Jeremy has to face unforeseen consequences for both the people and the plants he loves.
Hassinger’s evocative psychological novel, After the Dam, focuses on Rachel, a new mother and languishing Ph.D. student, who suddenly doubts her commitments to both her domestic role and her studies. With her infant daughter, she flees to her grandmother’s northwoods cabin, but rather than refuge, she finds the complications of her grandmother’s illness, an old boyfriend, and a deeper historical legacy. Hassinger, the author of Nina: Adolescence and The Priest’s Madonna, vividly depicts both rural Wisconsin and the emotional landscape of a young woman struggling to understand her past and present selves.