Join Papercuts as we welcome Julie Buntin, author of MARLENA, a best book of the year by Vogue, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post in conversation with Laura van den Berg.
The story of two girls and the wild year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades in MARLENA.
Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat is quickly drawn into Marlena’s orbit and as she catalogues a litany of firsts―first drink, first cigarette, first kiss, first pill―Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try again to move on, even as the memory of Marlena calls her back.
Told in a haunting dialogue between past and present, Marlena is an unforgettable story of the friendships that shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.
"A vivid portrait of a friendship between two teen girls in a troubled community that captures the heartaches of adolescence...At every turn, Buntin’s prose flows with the easy, confident rhythms of an accomplished writer, and though there’s really no mystery in the narrative, it reads nearly as compulsively as a thriller...The tale of two friends, one who succeeds and one who fails, isn’t new―it’s the entire focus of Elena Ferrante’s wildly popular Neapolitan books. But it remains fascinating nonetheless, especially in Buntin’s capable hands." ―The Boston Globe
Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida. She is the author of the novel Find Me and the short story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and The Isle of Youth, which was selected as a Best Book of 2013 by over a dozen outlets, including NPR and The Boston Globe. Both collections were shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, and she is the recipient of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and an O. Henry Award. She has taught creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Colby College, and Columbia University, and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
This event is free and open to the public.