Elizabeth Desimone reads from Guatemala In My Blood: How Nursing in Remote Jungle Villages Revolutionized My Life at Third Place Books tonight, while Ravenna Third Place hosts Shahana Dattagupta, the author of a short story collection titled Ten Avatars.
But the reading of the night is at Elliott Bay Book Company. Julia Holmes reads from her debut novel, Meeks. Meeks is a sci-fi novel, set in a weird world where single men live in homes for wayward bachelors as they wait for tailors to make them courting suits. Ben is one such bachelor, home from a war with an unnamed opponent. His mother has just died, and the state has seized his home. A tailor gives him some good advice:
"For the moment, you should make the most of grieving—you'll only ohave one opportunity in life to grieve for your own mother. Don't cheat yourself. Remember, there is no instinct for comporting oneself around death; grief won't come to you whole and perfectly formed without some work on your part. Your instinct may be to go insane, to hit yourself in the face, to tear out your hair, to cry all the time, to scream at the sky, to run into the river, to blame others, even to attack them in the full fever of grief."
Meeks alternates between Ben's story and the story of Meeks, a homeless man who believes he is a police officer. It's not a perfect book by any means. Holmes needs to work on her world-building, for one thing—at times, the culture feels flimsy, like 1984 reimagined by a Wes Anderson clone. And when the world feels weak, the characters occasionally will follow: The alternating stories feel wildly uneven, and the pacing of the book often lurches and stalls. But Holmes is a wonderful writer—she is especially gifted at writing about emotion, which can be a hard topic for even the most experienced writers—and I expect her to produce great things. You should get in on the ground floor of her career by going to this reading tonight.
The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here. And if you're planning on staying in and you're looking for personalized book recommendations, feel free to tell me the books you like and ask me what to read next over at Questionland.