The Limits of Truth
10/24/2015 - 4:30pm
Central Library - The Bubbler
Nonfiction is a funny genre. It’s the only genre defined by what it’s not. It’s not fiction, but what is it then? How far can a writer stretch a fact before it becomes a fiction? And what are one’s reasons for doing so? Join nonfiction writers Matthew Gavin Frank and B.J. Hollars as they read from their newly released genre-bending books, as well as discuss their attempts and obligations to reach toward the always-nebulous limits of truth.
Following his critically acclaimed Preparing the Ghost, renowned essayist Matthew Gavin Frank takes on America’s food. In a surprising style reminiscent of Maggie Nelson or Mark Doty, Frank examines a quintessential dish in each state, interweaving the culinary with personal and cultural associations of each region. From key lime pie (Florida) to elk stew (Montana), The Mad Feast commemorates the unexpected origins of the familiar. Brazenly dissecting the myriad intersections between history and food, Frank, in this gorgeously designed volume, considers politics, sexuality, violence, grief, and pleasure: the cool, creamy whoopie pie evokes toughness in the face of New England winters, while the stewlike perloo serves up an exploration of food and race in the South. Tracing an unpredictable map of our collective appetites, The Mad Feast presents a beguiling flavor profile of the American spirit.
Disturbed by stories of drownings in the river behind his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, writer B. J. Hollars combed the archives of local newspapers only to discover vast discrepancies in articles about the deaths. In homage to Michael Lesy’s cult classic, Wisconsin Death Trip, Hollars pairs reports from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century journalists with fictional versions, creating Dispatches from the Drownings, a hybrid text complete with facts, lies, and a wide range of blurring in between. Charles Van Schaick’s macabre, staged photographs from the era appear alongside the dispatches, further complicating the messiness of history.
Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of the nonfiction books, The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food, Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, Pot Farm, and Barolo, the poetry books, The Morrow Plots, Warranty in Zulu, and Sagittarius Agitprop, and 2 chapbooks. He teaches at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction Editor of Passages North. This winter, he tempered his gin with two droplets (per 750ml) of tincture of odiferous whitefish liver. For health.
The Mad Feast
B. J. Hollars is an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of several books, including Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa, Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America, and Sightings: Stories.
Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction