American Outsiders, and the Life Inside: Kushner and Berlin (1942)

Four Monday Evenings: April 1, 8, 15, and 22, from 7 to 9 p.m.

$110.00(10% off for members)

We will explore two of the year’s most lauded books, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, among the five finalists for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, and Evening in Paradise, by literary legend, Lucia Berlin. Writing with poignancy and compassion and deeply rooted insight about the lives of outsiders and the luckless, they find beauty even in the darkest of human experiences, elevating the harshest and most marginal of lives to memorable significance.

Rachel Kushner continues to astonish with her range and technical skill, ever since publishing her first critically acclaimed novels, Telex from Cuba in 2008 and The Flamethrowers in 2013, to wide popular success. With her latest novel, The Mars Room, her reputation is confirmed as among the most important, compelling, and hippest authors writing in English. Through the character of Romy Hall, an exotic dancer who is serving two life sentences plus six years in a fictional California maximum security prison for murders she committed under extenuating circumstances, Kushner explores the timeless themes of injustice and survival, as lived by people in the most confined of spaces and on the meanest streets of San Francisco’s Sunset District. The achievement is formidable for its authenticity of voice and atmospheric, deeply researched detail, and for the page-turning readability of its edgy tone and style, dark and rueful humor, and the unflinching eye that sees without judgment.

Lucia Berlin is widely compared to other masters of the short story, including Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, and Anton Chekhov, for the spare beauty, clarity, and skill of her prose, and the deep wisdom of her insights into human nature. An honored and much beloved teacher of writing at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at The Naropa Institute in Denver, Colorado in later years, Berlin’s dramatic, peripatetic, illness-challenged life always included her four loved sons, who cared for her until her death in 2004. The stories in Evening in Paradise, companion to the critical phenomenon, A Manual for Cleaning Women, named one of the Ten Best Books of 2015, were written and published in literary periodicals between 1977 and 1999. They range in length from one long, electric paragraph to the more usual thirteen or so pages, and move among the lives of impoverished wartime families in south Texas, glamorous Hollywood stars with feet of clay and lost high heels, determined seven-year-old girls navigating El Paso city streets and Mexican cantinas, and generations of family alcoholics holding onto belonging, and all told in the language of precision and music. Four Monday Evenings: April 1, 8, 15, and 22, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Required Texts:

The Mars Room (2018) by Rachel Kushner (9781476756554)

Evening in Paradise: More Stories (2018) by Lucia Berlin (9780374279486)


Recommended Additional Reading:

The Flamethrowers (2013) (9781439142011) and Telex from Cuba (2008) (9781416561040) by Rachel Kushner

A Manual for Cleaning Women (2015) by Lucia Berlin (9781250094735)

Rhonda Shary lived and worked in New York for over thirty years, in modern dance and avant-garde arts, environmental advocacy, and fundraising for progressive nonprofits, the arts, and higher education. Later, she was an adjunct professor of literature, writing, and film for over ten years at SUNY New Paltz, Marymount College of Fordham University, and the New York Institute of Technology. Her poetry, fiction, and essays appear in P&P’s District Lines III and V; 100-Word Story; Water Writes: An Anthology in Honor of the Hudson River Quadricentennial; A Slant of Light: Women Writers of the Hudson River Valley, among others. After moving to DC in 2014, she joined the staff at Politics and Prose Bookstore, where she is now an editor for OPUS Publishing and an instructor in the literature and writing classes.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

SKU: KushnerBerlin1942ClassProduct
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The Mars Room: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476756554
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - May 1st, 2018

Evening in Paradise: More Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374279486
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 6th, 2018

Telex from Cuba: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416561040
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Scribner - June 2nd, 2009

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250094735
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2016