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A Reading by Peter Orner
The Bard Fiction Prize and Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner reads from Maggie Brown & Others
Monday, October 28, 2019
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
Photograph © Pawul Kruk [A Reading by Peter Orner] On Monday, October 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the László Z. Bitó ’60 Auditorium, Reem-Kayden Center (RKC), Peter Orner reads from his new collection, Maggie Brown & Others. Presented by the Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series and the Written Arts Program, and introduced by MacArthur Fellow Dinaw Mengestu, the reading is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. Books by Peter Orner will be available for sale, courtesy of Oblong Books & Music.

An essential voice in American fiction, Peter Orner is the author of acclaimed books such as The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (2006), winner of the Bard Fiction Prize; Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge (2013); and the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Am I Alone Here? (2016), a memoir. Best known for his short fiction, Orner has been hailed as “a master of his form,” a writer who “doesn’t simply bring his characters to life, he gives them souls” (New York Times). Now, in his sixth book, Maggie Brown & Others (2019), Orner gathers a novella and forty-four stories—many as short as a few paragraphs, none longer than twenty pages—into an orchestral, polyphonic collection, his most sustained achievement yet.

Peter Orner is the author of two novels, three story collections, and a memoir. His stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and twice received a Pushcart Prize. Orner has been awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, as well as a Fulbright to Namibia. Currently, he is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and lives with his family in Norwich, Vermont.
 
PRAISE FOR PETER ORNER

“It’s been apparent since his first book, Esther Stories (2001), that Peter Orner was a major talent . . . You know from the second you pick him up that he’s the real deal. His sentences are lit from below, like a swimming pool, with a kind of resonant yearning that’s impossible to fake . . . Orner can do anything.” New York Times

“Mr. Orner packs remarkable pathos into his condensed dramas.” Wall Street Journal

“Orner writes with a combination of sincerity and self-awareness. . . . Most vividly reminiscent of Raymond Carver.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Orner is incapable of dishonoring his characters. He treats all of them—even the minor figures—with a fierce humanity.” Boston Globe
 
“Peter Orner is that rare find: a young writer who can inhabit any character, traverse any landscape, and yet never stray from the sound of the human heart.” Washington Post

“[Orner] is one of our most empathetic writers today. . . His fiction has an intimate feel: we are in conversation with otherwise unknown and forgotten lives. This is what makes Orner’s characters live and breathe beyond the page . . . This is how his clean, simple sentences succeed far beyond the limited space he gives them . . . Let us be thankful for Peter Orner.” Los Angeles Review of Books

“Orner is secretly one of the best contemporary writers working today: his characters are indelible, his focus small and piercing, his insights moving . . . all with his special sense for truth, character, and wistful realism.” Literary Hub

Contact: Nicole Nyhan, nnyhan@bard.edu, 845-758-7054

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Vol. 77
States of Play: The Games Issue
Fall 2021
Bradford Morrow

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November 17, 2021
I fell asleep with my girlfriend’s head on my shoulder, but woke to a too-familiar absence—one that had somehow followed us down all those highway miles—her body a shadow on the other bed that could have belonged to anyone, could have been an axe murderer for all I knew, but I just closed my eyes and willed whatever future was coming to hurry, I was tired of waiting for it. On my second waking the sun was shouldering its way into the room through the crack in the curtains, my girlfriend now missing from both beds, and the room was made strange by her disappearance so that I flung myself out from under the covers. I found her in the bathroom with her hands on either side of the sink, the water running and There’s something wrong with it Liv she said.
November 10, 2021
        The fathers drowned and scientists were baffled.
          All over the world fathers met their end in water. Fishing fathers drowned in rivers, swimming fathers drowned in lakes, tanning fathers drowned in backyard pools. Bathing fathers drowned in tubs and surfing fathers were sucked in the sea’s undertow. Fathers panning for gold drowned in creeks. A father was found dead with his head in an overflowing sink near dishes slick with syrup from breakfast. A father in a bathrobe was discovered face down in a puddle in the parking lot of a department store. Deep within a national forest, a father was found upended with both black rubber boots stuck up high from a primitive outhouse’s chamber hole. He would have looked funny if he weren’t dead.
          Fathers in other countries, fathers of celebrities, rich fathers, poor fathers, fathers only known in passing, cherished fathers, stepfathers, fathers of strangers and fathers of friends. They drowned and drowned.
November 3, 2021
   The day you told me the world was ending, you had inquired about a particular scent for treating your mother’s lapses in memory (further complicating the matter by saying that your father, the primary witness to her memory loss, was also deteriorating himself). I assured you there was no such perfume.

            As a joke or token of consolation, I showed you a favorite scent of my mother’s, which had played no small part in enchanting my father. It was a perfume heavy with middle notes, or heart-notes, as we call it, which take longer to dissipate. It had no medical basis for treating pre-existing memory loss, but the scent alone was potent enough to provide an olfactory anchor at the moment of inhalation—a perfumed time-stamp. 

            Of course the world was ending, I said. Everything was always ending. 
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